When I learned about the third grade students in Georgia who plotted to attack their teacher, my heart broke. FULL STORY Essentially, three systems put in place for our kids—parental, educational, mental health–have not yielded an outcome of which anyone of us can be proud. And let me be very clear, this is not about blame. This is about raising awareness of our children and working as a team so that communities wrap around each and every child so they may have a positive outcome. These are the systems in which I believe awareness needs to be strengthened:
The parenting system. I would hope that parents of any child know and connect with the teachers and leaders of the school their child attends. It is their business as parents to know what their kids are up to. In this situation, we are talking about 8- to 10- year-olds, not independent teenagers who even legally have been given freedom. So I stress to parents everywhere: Know yourself, know your child. Parenting begins with you.
And what I mean by this is, a parent with a balanced life, both physically and mentally, is a better parent. A parent more equipped to be a loving and healthy role model. If you are not in balance, there is no way your child can be in balance...
The education system. Yes, ultimately the plan was discovered, but how is it possible that it got this far in the first place? School is the place where children spend 8 hours daily of monitored time. I would hope that a teacher or a counselor in the system was plugged in enough to see this plan being hatched. And particularly disturbing was the premeditation of the plan, the division of labor. These kids banded together, and by the way, banding together is a good thing. Even the negative feelings toward the teacher that caused the kids to connect is okay. It’s the navigation of these feelings in an appropriate and guided way that was not available to these children—that is the piece that’s missing here. I believe that had there been some awareness and guidance, the outcome could have been a positive one.
The mental health system. It has been reported that some of these children had learning disabilities. Very common in this day and age. However, if there was outside help (outside and independent from the school), I would hope there was integration of this help to the other aspects of these children’s lives, specifically, integration with family and school. I would also hope someone was monitoring the outcomes of these treatments if there were any. Connecting these dots is key.
Aside from these three systems that are in place to support our kids across the board, there are also other influences, namely media, video games and the technology of 2008. And with all these systems, the truth is, basics are and always will be the most important lessons for our kids. Showing respect, love and tolerance is the place to start. Modeling and teaching strength-based connections for our children today leads to positive outcomes for tomorrow.
For more information, check out drsophy online
– Dr. Charles Sophy, Medical Director, Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS)
Filed under: Dr. Charles Sophy
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