Thursday, August 23, 2012

Schools and their place in raising kids

I was disgusted to read about an incident of school violence in San Francisco and the response of some individuals and groups.  The Bay Citizen reports:

School administrators kicked [a boy] out of Bessie Carmichael [Elementary School] for allegedly shooting another student in the face with a BB gun. He denied having a BB gun and shooting his classmate but admitted to carrying a plastic pellet gun in his backpack. The victim in the case was hit in the upper right cheek but was not seriously injured.

Although the facts are in dispute, the boy’s situation illustrates the San Francisco Unified School District’s haphazard struggle to fulfill complex health and safety mandates: Prevent violence, nurture victims and deal with inner-city trauma when it spills into the classroom.

While the district is responsible for keeping children safe, it’s also required to address the needs of students who exhibit risky or even violent behaviors. In the case of the boy at Bessie Carmichael, it failed to do both, records and interviews show.

A Bay Citizen review of violence prevention programs for youth in San Francisco revealed a web of services, mostly provided by city-funded nonprofit groups working in neighborhoods and, sometimes, schools. Even so, Shawn Richard, founder and executive director of Brothers Against Guns, said there are not enough resources to reach all of the kids who need help.

“The school district needs to partner up with organizations that deal with these issues in the communities instead of kicking a kid out of school with no counseling or services,” said Richard, whose group has a limited arrangement to work with students in the district. “But right now, we’re not at enough schools where we can do intervention.”

The district employs roughly 60 social workers and therapists to work in the city’s roughly 120 elementary and middle schools, but Andi Hilinski, who oversees the team, says that’s not enough to address the emotional needs of all students.

“Our department stance is that every school should have a full-time social worker and full-time nurse,” she said.

Despite limited resources, anti-violence experts say, schools remain the best places to help students from broken homes and violent neighborhoods get support.

In a study titled “Mitigating the Effects of Gun Violence on Children and Youth,” researchers at Cornell University said schools were “the most promising avenue for successful identification of and therapeutic intervention for exposed and victimized youth.”

. . .

By all accounts, the 11-year-old boy, Tori, has experienced significant trauma in his life. Between being shot and being suspended, he has missed more than seven months of classes since January 2011.

As he sat home last semester, his mother, Sabrina Carter, worried that he could wind up in the “school-to-prison pipeline” through which she has seen so many other boys in the neighborhood pass.

“If they feel like the school is turning on them, that’s when they end up hanging around on the streets doing things they have no business doing,” Carter said.

There's more at the link.  I recommend reading the whole article, even if it's filled to overflowing with sanctimonious politically-correct twaddle.

Isn't it amazing how moonbattery blinds people to reality?  In the first place, how can the newspaper quote the boy's mother with a straight face as she blames the school and the authorities for his lack of discipline?  She's the parent.  It's her responsibility to provide her child with the framework of discipline he'll need while growing up, and to form him into a worthwhile adult.  On the evidence presented in the article, she's done nothing whatsoever to provide that.

As for the Cornell University researchers, where on earth do they get the idea that schools are "the most promising avenue for successful identification of and therapeutic intervention for exposed and victimized youth"?  The dictionary defines 'therapeutic' as 'of or pertaining to the treating or curing of disease; curative'.  A school, by definition, is not a therapeutic institution!  Schools must teach kids the academic and other subjects they need to know.  That consumes most of their resources.  How on earth are they supposed to play parent and/or psychiatric hospital at the same time?  Furthermore, the kids are at school perhaps six or seven hours out of every day.  The rest of the time they're hanging about on the street, or at home with their families (or what's charitably known as their families), or up to mischief.  The school doesn't have them long enough each day, with enough time to spare from teaching them, to help them develop a sense of responsibility as well.

No, the most important elements of a child's formation take place at home.  The churches have known this for many generations.  As a pastor I used to tell parents that there was no point in sending their kids to catechism or Sunday school unless they were receiving a Christian upbringing at home, and seeing their parents and families living a Christian lifestyle.  Without that, the few hours a week that the church got to spend with them would be essentially wasted.  The same applies to schools.  They have more hours each week with the kids than do churches, but they have to use those hours for education, not moral formation.  To expect schools to take the place of parents is ludicrous.

A famous quotation attributed to several early Jesuits goes, 'Give me a child until he is seven and I will show you the man'.  Schools don't get the child until he's 5 or 6 years old.  All those preceding years, he's been shaped and formed by his parent(s) and his home environment.  Schools can't compensate for that in one or two years - not even in a dozen years.  The man-to-be has already been formed to a large extent.  Judging by the article cited above - and absent a miracle of Divine grace, which is always possible, albeit unlikely - the man that boy will grow up to be probably isn't one I'd wish to meet in a dark alley at night.



Unknown said...

A lot of moms seem to think the government makes a good daddy. It doesn't.

Erik said...

Have you read the work of Gunnar and Alva Myrdal? They pioneered the concept that children should be raised by "trained experts" rather than parents that had no training. It was for "the good of the people". (They also favored forced sterilisation for the same reason)
They were instrumental in promoting the concept that kids should be put in daycare and schools were they would be taught to be "citizens".

This shaped a lot of the scandinavian policies from the 1930s and on until today, and it seems to have influenced policy in lots of othercountries as well.

One of the essential things to do if you want society, through schools and daycare, to raise kids rather than the parents, is to remove parental influence. It's not enough to just put kids in schools, since they will still spend time with their parents. So you focus on undermining the parents, removing their authority and making them give up responsibility for how their kids are raised. There's a number of ways this can be done over time, but the end result is parents that take no responsibility and blame society and schools for not raising their kids.
And schools that keep trying new methods, and still cant figure out why it wont work.

Luke said...

Schools are most definitely the frontline in therapeutic interventions. Where do you think we pick up cases of child abuse, identify children that are at risk of self harm, identify learning disorders, and determine why some children are struggling academically or socially.

It doesn't absolve the parent of responsibility, but there's a reason why we have these structures in place.

Luan - Cairns, Australia

Bonus content

Word of the week:

Definition: who knows, seemingly perjorative term regarding to Californian Americans. Definition is on Internet if can be bothered to find.

Usage: a lot recently hence article on its use presented here. What's up with that?

Stuart Garfath said...

I am struck wordless by Luke. I'll not dissect the post. I don't have the words, nor the days, weeks or months to do so.
I will not make comment.
Lest my indignity of my comment discolour what I might say.
Stuart Garfath,
Sydney, Australia.

Mad Jack said...

Luke -
Moonbat is defined here as:
Dumber than a doorstop and manifesting the erudite qualities of an engine block, the Moonbats are found to the left of liberal Democrats and other self-destructive, blame shifting self-victimizers who exhibit a laudable tendency to congregate in like minded groups but who display a distressing affection for not terribly benevolent dictatorships masquerading as democratic special interest groups.

Follow the link for the full definition.

Mad Jack said...

This situation is ridiculous. The student Tori is 11. In a classroom of 11 year old students the stories of what happened and 'how does that make you feel?' are inconsistent. No surprise there.

In the bad old days the school teacher would have removed the offensive device and Tori might or might not have gotten paddled. Given Tori's extenuating circumstances, he might have gotten off with the warning that if he cut up again he was going to get paddled and sent to the office - where a second paddling could be administered before returning him to class.

And that would be that.

Luke said...

Thanks, useful and entertaining. Would I be right in assuming that it's the approximate antonymic equivalent of a wingnut then?

Luke said...

Thanks Stuart. For sparing my feelings, time and for adopting my signature as your own. I see that we're going to be best friends after all. ;p

I'm sure you are more qualified to answer than me, so forgive my misgivings about babies, bath water and my appreciation of school councillors, chaplains and psychologists. I know my previous post was a bit of a non sequitur and left of the mark, so I appologise for the hair you lost in your apoplectic fit of frustration. It's just that I've seen the difference that good teachers can make and how schools can shape children's behavior in ways totally at odds with their parents.

Luc - Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire