The news, almost daily, has stories of harm done to children. Where do we draw the line? Read More
I totally agree that a badly-needed new educational policy would be to institute a school program to educate children and teens (in age-appropriate ways) to understand and recognize what mentally healthy behaviors look like and sound like as opposed to mentally unhealthy behaviors; this would naturally include healthy vs unhealthy parenting behaviors.
Children need to understand what bullying behaviors are, including emotional abuse, physical abuse, and sexual abuse, and neglect, children need to understand why its wrong to maltreat others, and why its OK to protect or defend yourself and report maltreatment if its being done to you, no matter who is doing it, even if the maltreatment or neglect is coming from your parents or other family members.
Pre-teens and teens need to know the basics about child development, what is required in order to properly care for a baby at each stage of growth, and how to properly guide and teach a child without being abusive.
I see these classes as showing a short film clip of a life-situation problem, demonstrating a mentally healthy way to deal with the problem and a mentally-disordered way of dealing with the problem, followed by a discussion period.
It will be very, very difficult to institute such a school program because, as you pointed out, in America in particular we have such a strong and long-cherished reverence for individual freedom, including the freedom to choose our religion and choose how to raise our children, that more and more parents are choosing private schools or to home-school rather than utilize the public school system.
Even so, it took many long, hard battles to institute sex education in schools, and I think it would be worth it to fight again to institute psychological education ("healthy living" classes) so kids would have a basic understanding of psychologically healthy vs psychologically unhealthy behaviors, how to recognize mentally disordered behaviors, and how to handle it when subjected to psychological or physical or sexual maltreatment.
What a great post. Thank you very much. I agree completely.
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Kathryn Seifert, Ph.D., is the author of the Child & Adolescent Risk Evaluation screening tool.
When and how should we open up to loved ones?