Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Prison State USA: Round up the kids!

Now they're coming for the children. And I'm not talking about teenagers. Read some of the links Jurassic Pork's commenters helpfully rounded up for us.

I have absolutely no respect for adults who cannot handle a six year old child without calling the cops. None. This is a complete and utter failure in training. A child seeking attention has been rewarded for misbehavior with a *lot* of attention, and thus will misbehave more in the future. This is the dumbest, stupidest, most ignorant thing I've ever heard of -- and it is rampant today, apparently, from the links at Jurassic Pork's site.

The solution isn't the paddle. As I pointed out in my post "On Violence":

When it comes to the raising of children, or disciplining of children, much the same applies -- violence is never moral. The problem isn't that we've banned the paddle or whatever other rot the tighty righties want to trot out. The problem is that we have a very punitive and violent society that views punishment -- violence -- as the solution to all problems. But while violence can *stop* a behavior, that is all it can do -- it can never add something to a child's understanding of the world. It can never add something to society. Love, encouragement, setting clear goals and expectations and rewards (note I say rewards, not bribes, there's a difference), making life a pleasant and rewarding experience rather than something harsh and punitive... what works for raising a happy child, also works for raising a happy society. Alas, our punishment and violence addicted society seems to have forgotten this, thus why our society is so unhappy, violent, and prone to addictions such as crack cocaine, black tar heroin, and neo-conservative politics.
The solution, rather, is to have adults behave as adults. Physical intervention was necessary in this case because the child was behaving in a way that interfered with the education of other children and refused to leave the classroom, but violence against a child was completely and utterly unwarranted, unnecessary, and totally counter-productive. All that this child has learned is that by behaving like a complete ass, she can get lots of the adult attention that she apparently craves. She should have been gently physically restrained for as long as it took to round up her mother or bring herself under control, then removed to the custody of her mother for several days' suspension, or to emergency foster care if her mother or some other relative was not available to take custody. Then she should not have been allowed back into class without a behavior plan in place, preferably one based upon a "levels" system where she had to earn her way back into the good graces of the school via exhibiting clearly defined and observed desirable behaviors and receiving a specified set of priviliges back. This is how I was trained by the Houston Independent School District to handle this situation fifteen years ago, and H.I.S.D. isn't particularly known for excellence in education or discipline, but this is what worked and it worked even for the mentally ill children that I was charged with teaching.

But that conflicts with the violent and ignorant nature of our society, so these Florida crackers think that "being tough" is the solution. Violence against children is never the solution. Never. Some very limited violence may be necessary in order to stop a behavior that presents a danger to herself or others, but as I have previously pointed out, violence never adds anything to the world. It only takes away. You have to fill a child with something to fill that hole, with joy and love and doing things together and making life a pleasant place for that child the majority of the time, or all you end up with is a child that is unhappy, misbehaving, and violent. We have decades -- yes, *DECADES* -- of behavioral research confirming this. Yet as a violent and ignorant society, we still insist upon violence as the solution to all societal problems...

-- Badtux the Behavioral Psychology Penguin


  1. What kinds of teachers are these that they can't discipline a kid? This is pathetic. Really pathetic.

  2. Truffle, the teachers have my sympathy here, I covered this case some time back and discovered that they did exactly what they were trained to do, they were simply dealing with a child who has discovered that violent and abusive behavior will get her what they want. At that point there becomes no alternative but to remove the child from the classroom, and the teachers contacted the administration to have this done.

    The problem then became administration's, especially once they managed to remove the child from the classroom. At that point someone trained in non-violent restraint should have restrained the child until she calmed down enough to not present a danger to herself or others, the parent contacted to come get the child, and if the parent or other relative could not be contacted by school personnel or by the police within two hours time or the parent refused to come get the child, CPS contacted to take custody of the child into temporary foster care until a relative could be located willing to take custody of the child. This is all procedure, procedure that we were drilled in at H.I.S.D. for dealing with this situation, and like I said H.I.S.D. is hardly known for its excellence (anything but).

    So anyhow, Truffle, the kid the teachers were dealing with was not a normal middle class kid like you might be familiar with, she was a kid who had been indoctrinated from early on in "thug culture" i.e. that violence was the solution to all problems, and that displaying violence would get her what she wanted. It's pitiful that the reaction of a society that decries the thug culture of a 50cent itself reacted in a way that 50cent himself could very well have approved of ("slap the ho, cuff the bitch, show her who's boss!"). The fact that one set of pimp daddies wears ghetto duds and the other wears a blue uniform doesn't make a bit of difference at that point, and the teaching moment that there is a better way other than thuggishness to get what you want was completely skipped. Because violence is the solution to every social problem, in Prison State America...

    - Badtux the non-thuggish Penguin

  3. One problem with what "should" have been done is that Florida's Child Protective Services are woefully inadequate. That said, they still should have been called. This was not a criminal issue, it was a child crying out for help. Rather than help this child, they treated her like a common criminal.

    Hell, if they couldn't contact a parent, a relative or CPS, maybe an ambulance?

    There is absolutely no reason on this earth that a child of six should be taken to central booking, fingerprinted, photographed, etc.

    Had this been a naughty, white six-year-old, would the outcome have been different? You betcha.


  4. Like you said, this is a violent and ignorant society. And you are a part of it.

    And I don't think it will die peacefully.


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