America's reliance on juvenile incarceration is unique

It hurts me to see the NRA making public policy & politicians blaming teachers for failed schools while they (those same policy making people) are ignoring the screaming need for early childhood programs that could stem the poverty and mental health tsunami that has attacked our inner cities (Detroit, Flint, Houston, Compton, Baltimore…giant swaths of a new and dangerous America )

As a long-time volunteer county CASA guardian ad-Litem, I cringe at the growing Mental health catastrophe (as defined by Dr Read Sulik, Minnesota’s Chief Child Psychiatrist – simply a child’s ability to cope at home and in school) and the plethora of psychotropic medications poured into five, seven, and nine year olds.

So many of America’s children are on their way to preteen motherhood & adolescent felony and we think it’s the teachers fault.

How is it that we have more gun murders, more teen pregnancies & juvenile sexually transmitted diseases, more incarcerated adults, crime per capita than the rest of the industrialized world (and not seem to care about it?)

Educators have been forced to become mental health and juvenile justice workers on top of teaching to youth grossly unprepared for school & learning.   Most of the children I’ve worked with (a small percentage of the 3 million children reported to child protection each year) have been subject to extended exposure to violence and deprivation.

The World Health Organization defines torture as “extended exposure to violence and deprivation” (the children in my caseload had been tortured).

It is time for teachers to start speaking out in a loud and clear voice about the need for much greater involvement by the community in the affairs of the our youngest citizens.

These shootings, these beatings, America’s expanding community wide insanity are destroying millions of young lives each year and filling prisons and wrecking cities without any clear signs of abatement.  In this we are unique in the industrialized world.

And teachers worry about their own safety in and outside of their classrooms.

Politicians blaming teachers should be forced into poor neighborhoods to teach until they can put forth workable ideas for improvement.    We all need to say more.  Change won’t come by accident or inaction.

“What we do to our children, they will do to society” (Pliny, 2500 years ago)

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2 Comments

  1. Your article was just what needs to be said. Thank you for writing. I am glad to post it and hope readers give careful thought to your message.

    Politics is stealing our country!

  2. I believe that it is the time to start implementing what works and stop focusing on what doesn’t work.

    One thing that has worked since the 1960’s is the Head Start Program. It gave and continues to give children that could not go to nursery school an education. It is a great start to entering kindergarten, as the children are more equipped

    I also remember reading about a school on the south side of Chicago that has put into place an entire program focusing on the children in the inner city. The report stated that not only were the children were responsible and accountable for learning, but their parents were also encouraged to be part of the school’s mission statement. They were to volunteer in the school.

    Another program that works is the Boys and Girls Clubs. Here the children do homework, have snakes and play. And I am sure there are other programs that do work in different communities.

    I believe that if were start focusing on what works and expand that, we will be more successful in reaching the “ invisible” children as well as all children..

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