Category Archives: Severe Behavior

Eating and Self-Injury Disorders: Finding the Door to Recovery (Guest: Melissa Groman, LCSW)

BTRadioIntDisorders of eating can affect both young and old. Their self-abusive characteristics are difficult to understand and, at times, can be even more difficult to manage and treat effectively. Melissa Growman, LCSW, shares valuable insights in this interview from some of our most popular programs in the archives. –JDS 

…………………………

Eating and Self-injury Disorders: Finding the Door to Recovery, Melissa Groman

Beliefs, and the thoughts they bring on, can either guide a person’s life and keep it on course, or they can erupt into feelings that torment an individual without mercy. When that happens, any behavior that covers and soothes emotional pain and anguish is an option.

Difficult to Address

According to our guest on this program, eating and self-injury disorders are difficult to address because they serve their purpose, at least in the short-term. Like other behaviors that can become addictive, bingeing and starving, or the compulsive cutting of one’s own flesh, provide welcomed distraction and relief from much deeper pain.

These behaviors can become a cycle of self-abuse that occurs in more adolescent girls and young women than you might think. Ultimately, the cycle becomes a trap.

Is there hope for change?

Ambivalence is an Issue

Better is Not So Far Away, Melissa GromanOur guest on this program, Melissa Groman, psychotherapist and specialist in eating and self-injury disorders, suggests that, although recovery from these disorders is possible, ambivalence toward recovery can be a major obstacle. In this program, Melissa will share with us why this is so, what it takes for recovery to become a reality, and what caring parents, other relatives and friends can do to help.

Melissa Growman, LCSW

Melissa’s trademark warmth, sensitivity and profound understanding of human nature permeate her work. She has more than 25 years of experience helping people live healthy, satisfying lives. Although she maintains a busy private practice, Melissa writes regularly for a number of magazines, websites and blogs. This program features her book, Better is Not So Far Away: Decide to Recover from Bingeing, Starving or Cutting. (27:43)

www.melissagroman.com

TO LISTEN, use the player below or left-click the link. To access the file right-click and “Save Link as …” to save to your audio device), CLICK HERE FOR LINK


(START/STOP Audio)

 

Bullycide: When Cyberbullying Turns Fatal (Guest: Judge Tom Jacobs)

The Changing Behavior NetworkIn this radio-style podcast taken from our archives, Dr. James Sutton interviews Judge Tom Jacobs, a former Arizona juvenile court judge, on the topic of bullycide, youth suicide as a result of cyberbullying.

…………………………………….

Cyber Bullycide

As effective tools of communication and commerce, the internet and cyberspace have changed the way we live. For all the good and benefits they bring, there is a downside. This program addresses loss of life as a result of cyber abuse: Bullycide.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe suicide of young people as a result of cyberbullying is a serious issue that is growing in its impact. Our guest on this program, Judge Tom Jacobs, studies cyber bullycide and the circumstances and events that affect the lives and welfare of our young people. Judge Tom will guide us through the issues of bullycide and how it happens, and he will share his research on legal implications and what we can all do to best protect our children and grandchildren from such a grave threat.

Ask the Judge

Judge Tom is the founder and moderator of AsktheJudge.info, a teen-law website for and about teen, tweens and the laws that affect them. His daughter, Natalie, assists him in making AsktheJudge.info a go-to resource. It’s also a valuable website for parents and educators who want to stay current with issues that affect the safety and welfare of our young people.

AskTheJudge.info, bullycide, judge tom jacobs

Judge Tom Jacobs

Judge Tom is a retired juvenile judge from Arizona, having spent 23 years on the bench. He has written several books for lawyers and judges, as well as for teens and parents, including the book that covers our topic in this program: Teen Cyberbullying Investigated. (28:04)

http://www.AsktheJudge.info

TO LISTEN, use the player below or left-click the link. To access the file right-click and “Save Target as …” to save to your audio device), CLICK HERE FOR LINK


(START/STOP Audio)

How to Be A Great Parent (Guest: Dr. Nancy Buck)

Dr. Nancy Buck, Peaceful ParentingThere is plenty of evidence to show that the brain processes negative factors quicker, longer and with more gusto than it processes the positive. We tend not to reflect on things that are going well, but just look at what we do when events and circumstances cause us concern.

What does this mean regarding how we communicate with our children and students? Answer: Just about EVERYTHING. Welcome to “How to Be a Great Parent.”

A Clash of Priorities

According to our guest on this program, developmental psychologist Dr. Nancy Buck, we want our kids to be SAFE. Our children, however, want to have FUN. These distinctly different priorities can clash into conflict. (It happens often, doesn’t it?) Nancy will show us how our typical responses in these situations can take a toll. In the process of unintended difficulty, relationships suffer.

How to Be a Great Parent, Nancy Buck

Understanding Wants and Needs

In this fast-paced and stimulating program, Nancy provides the research and rationale for better understanding a child’s wants and needs, as well as methods for redirecting youngsters in ways that are more successful and more pleasant. It takes a bit of practice, but it’s worth it.

Dr. Nancy Buck

Dr. Nancy Buck is the founder of Peaceful Parenting, Inc. She blogs regularly for Psychology Today, and she’s an in-demand speaker and presenter on the topic of effective parenting. Nancy is the author of the acclaimed book, Peaceful Parenting, as well as a just-released work, How to be a Great Parent: Understanding Your Child’s Wants and Needs. (29:17)

htpp://www.peacefulparenting.com

TO LISTEN, use the player below or left-click the link. To access the file right-click and “Save Target as …” to save to your audio device), CLICK HERE FOR LINK


(START/STOP Audio)

The Joys and Challenges of Foster Parenting (Dr. John DeGarmo)

Dr. John DeGarmoIt would be difficult for us to ever fully realize and understand the value of foster parents. Their contributions are ongoing reminders of the resilience of the human spirit and the impact of love, support and assurance when it is needed most. Indeed, there are many successful men and women who were raised in foster families. This program is about the joys and challenges of foster parenting.

It’s a serious thing to remove a child or teen from their biological home, yet circumstances can dictate just that. Through no fault of their own, youngsters’ lives can be changed dramatically as they are placed with a foster family, for not to move them could expose them to serious, even life-threatening, physical and emotional risk.

Although folks who have “been there” will tell you the blessings of being a foster parent outweigh the troubles, it’s understandable how a child or teen going into foster placement might not be happy about it. Patience, insight, understanding, and sometimes a pretty thick skin are needed to help these kids find their footing on a better road. So, according to our guest on this program, foster parent and foster parenting expert, Dr. John DeGarmo, being a foster parent takes a substantial amount of grit in addition to love and compassion.

Fostering Love, Dr. John DeGarmoIn this program, Dr. John explains the nature and process of foster parenting, and he freely shares some of the ups and downs he and his wife, Kelly, have experienced in their 12 years as foster parents. He also discusses some of the behaviors and characteristics of youngsters coming into foster placement (especially for the first time), and how they are best addressed. (These could include hoarding of food, boundary issues, poor school performance, difficulty with conflict, problems in exercising trust and fear of rejection.) Dr. John also shows how we all can best assist foster children and their foster families.

Dr. John travels extensively, speaking and training on foster care. He also hosts a weekly radio show, Foster Talk with Dr. John, and he’s the author of a number of books on foster care. In this program, we’re featuring one that has been especially well-received, Fostering Love: One Foster Parent’s Journey. This book is an absolute must-read for anyone thinking of becoming a foster parent. (28:50)

http://drjohndegarmofostercare.weebly.com

TO LISTEN, use the player below or left-click the link. To access the file right-click and “Save Target as …” to save to your audio device), CLICK HERE FOR LINK


(START/STOP Audio)

 

Teaching Young People to Use “Courageous Dialogue” (Guest: Charmaine Hammond)

BTRadioInt-300x75-300x75As The Changing Behavior Network and its sister site, “It’s About Them,” have grown and developed as resources, so have the missions and the careers of former guest authors and experts on the show. Charmaine Hammond is an excellent example. In this interview taken from our February, 2012 archives, she speaks of her early experiences with young offenders while working in corrections and dispute dispute resolution. The topic is about a vital skill: communicating effectively with others. Indeed, there is value in teaching young people to use courageous dialogue. Today, Charmaine still speaks on this topic (and others) as she addresses organizations and corporate audiences in presentations and keynotes across the US and Canada.

……………………………………….

Charmaine Hammond, teaching young people to use courageous dialogueHave you ever needed to speak up to someone, to pose a concern or problem, but didn’t do it because you were afraid of what might happen if you did? Or perhaps you really didn’t know how to do it. Confrontation is tough enough for adults with some experience in the matter, but it can be a huge obstacle for young people. The consequences of an unpleasant outcome can affect them for a long, long time.

Listen in as Charmaine Hammond offers insights into what she calls “Courageous Dialogue.” She’ll show us how we can use it, and how we can teachbounce forward, charmaine Hammond, courageous dialog, the ask and share the skills with children and teens. She’ll also tell us about something she calls “The ASK.”

Charmaine is a registered social worker with a background in corrections and dispute resolution, and plenty of experience with young offenders. She is also the author of Bounce Forward, an information-packed book on the subject of communication. Her website is www.charmainehammond.com. (21:38)

To listen, use the player below or left-click the link. To access the file right-click and “Save Target as …” to save to your audio device), CLICK HERE FOR LINK


(START/STOP Audio)

“I Want to Die:” Helping the Severely Depressed Youngster (Michael Bushman)

BTRadioInt-300x75-300x75There’s not doubt at all that they youngster who says or thinks, “I want to die,” is struggling with a profoundly serious issue. The severely depressed youngster needs hope, they need help, and they need them quickly.

Mike Bushman, Michael Bushman, Suicide Excape, I want to die, suicidal thoughtSevere depression in our young people is not only a serious concern, they may rarely talk about it, especially to an adult. A sense of hopelessness can cause a youngster to feel that things for them will never be any better, that their circumstances can no longer be tolerated. At that point, even suicide makes sense to them.

So why would they talk about it, especially if their decision is made, or nearly so?

What are these young people experiencing, and why? What are some of the signs that could suggest they are struggling with depression? What can we do to help? How can we offer hope that deeply difficult moments rarely last, and that they are not worth the cost of a life?

Michael Bushman, Suicide Escape, the severely depressed youngster, how to deal with depressionMike Bushman, this program’s guest, has a deeply personal and powerful perspective on severe depression in young people. The insights and interventions he shares can and do make a difference in how to deal with depression.

For 25 years, Mike worked as a congressional aide, lobbyist, press secretary, investor relations executive, corporate and marketing communications leader and global policy head. Then, in 2012, he retired to return to his first passion: writing.

Mike has authored two novels reflecting the future we would face if we as a country continue on our current divisive political path. This newer book, Suicide Escape, is a unique combination of novella and memoir addressing deeply personal stories of teen depression and despair. The book reflects what Mike has learned and what he wishes he knew and understood as a young teen dealing with thoughts of suicide. (27:03)

www.MBushman.com

TO LISTEN, use the player below or left-click the link. To access the file right-click and “Save Target as …” to save to your audio device), CLICK HERE FOR LINK


(START/STOP Audio Here)

Conduct Disorder: Controlling the Uncontrollable, Part 2 (Guest: Ruth Herman Wells)

BTRadioInt-300x75The youngster diagnosed as Conduct Disorder is, without question, the most difficult child or teen to raise, teach, understand and manage.

RuthWellsphotoThese kids don’t think like we do, and therein lies our biggest challenge. Appealing to a sense of right or wrong with this youngster, or attempting to address remorse for harm done to others, doesn’t work. They don’t relate to the pain and suffering of others. In fact, they don’t relate at all.

Unfortunately, these youngsters can steal, hit, manipulate, bully, defy, torment and hurt others, resist rules and laws, and torture and kill animals … and it doesn’t bother them, at all.

This is the MOST unmanageable youngster you could possibly encounter. Effective interventions matter a great deal.

RWellsCDbookRuth Herman Wells, our guest on this program, has spent her career perfecting techniques to use with CD kids. On this program, she will share some of the best answers that exist for successfuly managing unmanageable children and teens. Ruth perfected these interventions in the trenches where the problems were. So, when we use what she shares, the ideas work.

Ruth is the Director of Youth Change Workshops, out of Oregon. She has managed programs for deliquent, troubled and problem youth. She’s the author of dozens of books, including All the Best Answers for the Worst Kid Problems: Anti-social Youth and Conduct Disorders. (22:35)

(NOTE: Click on “Free Materials From Our Experts” tab above to access a two-part article by Ruth entitled, “What Every Youth Professional MUST know about Violent Students.”)

 

TO LISTEN, use the player below or left-click the link. To access the file right-click and “Save Target as …” to save to your audio device), CLICK HERE FOR LINK


(START/STOP Audio)

Spotlight Feature: Unlocking Parental Intelligence (Guest: Dr. Laurie Hollman)

BTSpotlightDr. Laurie Hollman’s book, Unlocking Parental Intelligence, is very new. It reveals many insights into how parents can realize better discipline and improved relationships with their children by becoming “meaning makers.” We caught up with Laurie to visit with her on the writing of the book and the impact she would like to see it create.

……………………………………….

Laurie, what was the inspiration, the driving force, behind the writing of Unlocking Parental Intelligence?

It’s hard to write in the past tense about my “inspiration” for writing about Parental Intelligence even though the book is finished and published because I continue to write about the concept. My inspiration has had and continues to have many sources for which I am grateful—the children and parents I treat in my clinical practice and my own children. I’m fortunate to be able to keep on writing about Parental Intelligence for Huffington Post, so I can reach more and more parents and receive their feedback and questions. I’m still inspired!

As my three decades of psychoanalytic practice and research progressed, I incorporated the voices of so many mothers and fathers who came at different stages in parenting. Feeling thankful to those parents for telling me how unlocking their Parental Intelligence benefited their families, I was compelled to narrow Parental Intelligence into five accessible steps for others to grow from.

My children were raised with Parental Intelligence. It was natural for me to want to understand their minds—their thoughts, feelings, intentions, and imaginings. It’s wonderful to share trust and love with your children. I hadn’t coined the term, Parental Intelligence, when I was a young mother, but I was practicing it nonetheless and wanted others to have the same good fortune to have empathetic, industrious kids with great senses of humor who enjoy learning, creating, and relating well with others. They have been and surely are an inspiration for my writing.

What were your biggest challenges in writing the book?

I love words! I revel in finding the right word to express what I’m feeling and thinking. I remember working hard on Part I: Developing Your Parental Intelligence to develop five accessible steps for parents to gain Parental Intelligence: Stepping Back, Self-Reflecting, Understanding Your Child’s Mind, Understanding Your Child’s Development and Problem Solving. With each step, I wanted to be talking with my readers through my writing.

Rowhousesfcebook2FNL.jpgenlgd

Once the five steps were in place, one of the favorite but difficult parts of writing this book became writing Part II: Stories of Parental Intelligence in Practice. Writing short stories was new for me. I wrote about eight youngsters, their families and the challenges they faced, with examples like a two-year-old’s temper tantrums, a jealous identical twin who would hit his brother, and a lonely, though brilliant, seventeen year old.

I began to live with these characters. I remember finishing a chapter about a little boy who drew a picture that led his father to finally understand what he was going through. I was drained—I felt so much for this boy who felt he was a “bad, bad” child when he was so sensitive and wonderful.

I wanted my readers to really get to know the parents and children I was writing about and to care about them. I wanted to bring my readers into the lives of these people, to identify with them, and then naturally learn Parental Intelligence rather than feel like it was an intellectual exercise.

I hope my readers find themselves interrupting their reading to rest the book on their laps just to muse about the characters and let their minds wander into their own lives with their children. In that way, I hope they get to know themselves and their children better—loving them even more.

Writing became relaxing for me. I guess I would “get into the zone.” This experience led me to write to parents through Moms Magazine and Huffington Post. It was a shift from writing scholarly works for psychoanalytic journals and books to writing for the popular press, but I find it challenging and exciting. The book gave me the opportunity to write about what I knew very well and felt very deeply and now I can continue to do that.

You make an interesting turn on the word “unlocking” in the book’s title. What was your purpose there?

I think parents should never be underestimated even when they have self-doubts. When I first have a consultation with distressed parents and ask them questions, they are surprised how much they know about their child. As a psychoanalyst and writer I want to help parents organize what they know and harness this knowledge with the use of Parental Intelligence. In this way, I “unlock” what they know and help them use it in ways they haven’t before.

The five steps take the parents on a journey where they unlock their Parental Intelligence and get to know the underlying problems behind their child’s behavior. The behavior is really sending messages. The key is to understand and decipher those messages.

By unlocking Parental Intelligence parents learn how to understand why children do what they do, what is on their minds, and how they can comprehend their child’s inner world. The behavior is the catalyst to change as words rather than behavior become the vehicle for improved communication and connections between parent and child.

What distinguishes your approach from other approaches to parent-child conflict resolution?

My approach is distinguished by my intent to help parents become “meaning makers” by understanding and applying the three basic, interrelated tenets of Parental Intelligence. First, behaviors have underlying meanings. Second, once parents understand how their own minds are working, they are liberated to understand their child—how their child’s mind is working. And third, once meanings are clear, options surface by which to change puzzling behaviors.

When these three core concepts come into play and parents are faced with misbehavior, first they ask, “What does it mean?” not “What do I do?” With this in mind, the ambiance of family life fundamentally changes.

When parents get to know themselves—their reactions to their child and the many influences on their parenting—they find that they gain a better understanding of their child who wants to be known as he or she actually is. This means that parents no longer focus on the child’s specific misbehavior as the overarching troubles and problems emerge. When those problems are addressed, the original misbehavior loses importance and usually stops. Parents learn how to understand the underlying determinants to their child’s behavior, how to ‘read’ nonverbal as well as verbal communication, and how to create an open dialogue.

You write about politics and parenting. That’s interesting; tell us about that.

My epithet for the last chapter is: “When children’s voices are heard, leaders are born.” My younger son contributed to Part III: The Future with Parental Intelligence with his millennial voice. I’ll let him speak for himself:

“America seems to be in a period of political dogma, a place where certitude is more important than nuance and understanding.” This certainty “is masqueraded as strength, but it really comes out of ignorance and fear. I think you can argue that parents fighting with a child, letting their ego get involved, are doing so out of fear of the unknown, unconsciously using a survival reflex, defending themselves unnecessarily. The only thing that can combat fear is knowledge: knowing there’s a technique to deal with understanding what’s happening in someone else’s mind. And that technique is Parental Intelligence. If Parental Intelligence were taught, if people were encouraged to understand one another before reflexively trying to defend themselves, if trying to empathize and know others’ minds was seen as a strength, we’d live in a more compassionate, if not more efficient, society.”

When a parent reads Unlocking Parental Intelligence, what do you hope is their single most important take-away?

I want parents to think of themselves as “meaning makers,” of course. By the end of the book, if not before, I’d like parents to take away the set of tools needed to help understand their children’s behavior and in turn become more effective parents. Parenting will feel more pleasurable, inspiring, and gratifying. Their children will be grateful, thinking, capable, and loving. ###

 

Dr. Laurie Hollman is an experienced psychoanalyst and author who has written extensively for many publications. Her faculty positions have included New York University and The Society for Psychoanalytic Training and Research. [website]

 

 

When Behavior Becomes Desperate: Insights and Interventions (Guest: Dr. James Sutton)

BTRadioIntThreat and danger don’t even have to be real to be a problem. There are youngsters (adults, too) who, for any number reasons, live in a constant state of alert. Behaviors of others toward them, even something as mild as one step too many into their personal space, brings a reation that hardly fits the circumstance.

Because this behavior is based on survival and fueled by fear, typical responses and discipline easily can worsen subsequent behavior as it increases the perceived threat. It’s a vicious cycle, and it’s difficult to stop. Exactly how do we negotiate with one’s need to survive?

Our guest on this program, The Changing Behavior Network’s founder and host, Dr. James Sutton, calls this Desperate Behavior, for that’s precisely what it is. Considering all of a school’s students, desperate behavior is rare. It occurs in only about 1-3% of the entire population, but it accounts for the majority of the problems, as well as the lingering misery of affected youngsters.

Since traditional approaches often fail, something different is needed, and that’s the focus of this program. It’s also addressed in Dr. Sutton’s newest book, The Changing Behavior Book.

A nationally recognized child and adolescent psychologist, author and speaker, Dr. James Sutton is in demand for his expetise on emotionally and behaviorally troubled youngsters, and his skill for sharing it. A former Special Education teacher, he is the founder and host of The Changing Behavior Network, a popular internet radio-style podcast supporting young people and their families. 23:58)

(Dr. Sutton has made an arrangement with the publisher for listeners to receive a FREE copy of his bestseller, 101 Ways to Make Your Classroom Special, when they order a copy of The Changing Behavior Book. For more information or to order, CLICK HERE and use the password supplied at the end of this program.)

www.DocSpeak.com

TO LISTEN, use the player below or left-click the link. To access the file right-click and “Save Target as …” to save to your audio device), CLICK HERE FOR LINK


(START/STOP Audio)

Scared Justice: Fighting America’s War on Youth (Kenneth Johnson)

BTAboutThemAn eleven-year-old Florida student was handcuffed, taken to jail, and charged with a third-degree felony for having a plastic butter knife; a New York pre-K student is suspended for having too many bathroom accidents; a Mississippi student was arrested for breaking wind; a Tauton, Massachusetts second grader was suspended and forced to undergo a mental health evaluation for drawing a picture of Jesus on the cross; a California student faces a judge on criminal charges of being tardy too many times; and a Baltimore, Maryland student risked suspension for nibbling on a Pop Tart in the shape of a gun. We see it all the time in the headlines. For those who are unaware, there’s a war in America that’s been going on for some time now.

KJohnsonphotoEvery year, we are arresting over 2 million students. Far more students are suspended and expelled. Studies have shown that a child’s chances of dropping out increases by 50% for every time (s)he is suspended out of school. Presently, some 7,000 students drop out each school day. Most of these suspensions, expulsions, and arrests take place just before standardized testing. The reason for this, scholars posit, is what’s being called the Test-to-Prison Pipeline (a variation of the older School-to-Prison Pipeline theory). Simply put, a child that is suspended/expelled or incarcerated cannot take the standardized test and therefore the overall test results will be higher. This is critical in states like Florida where a school’s funding is based on how well students do on these tests.

Most juvenile arrests in America today are predicated upon what criminologists call the “Super Predator Myth.” This myth was first postulated by Professor John DiIulio, Jr. as a research-based theory of juvenile crime. Later, his research was found to be fundamentally flawed in every conceivable way. However, Pandora’s Box had already been opened by this junk science theory. We became a nation fearful of our youth and with the wrong-headed notion the only way to keep them from turning into murderous thugs was to arrest and try them as adults for felony crimes.

Today in America, the prison system is such a booming business. Private prisons, like the Geo Group, publicly trade on the stock market. Most of America’s population of inmates first came into the criminal justice system by way of juvenile arrests. The primary reason that an incarcerated person leaves a juvenile detention facility is because they have reached the age of majority and now must be transferred to an adult prison to finish out the rest of their sentence.

Rather than being a nation of law and justice, we have turned to “scared justice” tactics where laws vary based upon a person’s income, race, age, and other factors. And, no place can this injustice be more finely felt than by our nation’s youth.

KJohnsonbookHARD TALK; STRAIGHT TALK

In the fields of Conflict Resolution and Restorative Justice, professionals and writers are now focusing a tremendous amount of time on pathways to engaging in difficult discussions. Each field of conflict study has its own thought leaders with their own ways of tackling this endeavor head-on. But why are we seemingly in need of such study and works?

Part of the problem is the manufacturing of fear in the public over juvenile crimes. One major culprit is our nation’s School Resource Officer program. The other player in this social malaise is Hollywood.

While SROs are used practically nation-wide, the data on their effectiveness is less than compelling. While their stated purpose is to safeguard the students, national crime data reveals they generally arrest students for innocuous offenses when traditional school-based disciplinary procedures would be more effective and beneficial. In protecting students from school violence and shootings, the data also reflects they generally are ineffective with them mostly arresting students on baseless charges.

One of the best publicly available arguments against SROs can be found in the Justice Policy Institute’s “Education Under Arrest: The Case Against Police in Schools,” where it looks at the chronic failures, duties, dangers and case law surrounding SROs. For instance, in the Supreme Court case of J.B.D. vs North Carolina, involving a 13 year old student who was arrested without being read Miranda rights, the court found juveniles do not possess proper understanding to appreciate Miranda. Ultimately, the report delineates five ways to improve schools without needing SROs. These suggestions ranged from properly training and supporting staff on issues of behavioral disruptions to building quality relationships between staff and students.

Ironically, these suggestions are things which are best handled through Conflict Resolution and Restorative Justice strategies. In my book, Unbroken Circles for Schools, I specifically addressed how using Peer Mediation with Circles, Panels, Conferences, and Justice Circles can create a community of care which improves classroom instruction, addresses behavioral issues, builds relationships, provides counseling options, and identifies issues early on in order to render SROs needless in schools. The JPI piece proposed using government funds to purchase varying national plans but, as I note in my book, effective strategies already exist in the public domain.

Hollywood is also just as guilty of culpable harm. Specifically, shows like “Beyond Scared Straight” perpetuate a myth while fostering practices proven to actually harm children as bad, if not sometimes worse, than what SROs do by arresting children needlessly.

According to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, “A study by Anthony Petrosino and researchers at the Campbell Collaboration analyzed results from nine Scared Straight programs and found that such programs generally increased crime up to 28 percent in the experimental group when compared to a no-treatment control group. In another analysis of juvenile prevention and treatment programs, Mark Lipsey of the Vanderbilt Institute for Public Policy Studies found that youth who participate in Scared Straight and other similar deterrence programs have higher recidivism rates than youth in control groups. And a report presented in 1997 to the U.S. Congress reviewed more than 500 crime prevention evaluations and placed Scared Straight programs in the “what does not work” category. Despite these findings, Scared Straight programs continue to be used throughout the United States and abroad.”

Again, the OJJDP focused on the very same solutions which the JPI looked at. Naturally, like with the JPI, the OJJDP urged for costly programs to be employed by schools and communities. However, like I stated before, effective Conflict Resolution and Restorative Justice solutions are already in the public domain and used daily by trained and certified professionals.

A common saying, “A leopard can’t change its spots,” is often used in reference to criminals. The meaning behind this is that a child who does wrong actions now will only do worse actions later as an adult – a flawed line of logic at best. I say, “If you paint spots on a lion cub, it doesn’t make it a leopard.” Ultimately, I contend that officials are making children out to be worse than they are. In fact, most, if they were given a little extra attention, could become tremendous benefits to society as adults.

Research has come forth saying that children are facing massive issues with underemployment by their parents, broken homes where they may have only an extended family member at best to serve as guardian over them, domestic violence in the home, substance abuse in the home, untreated illnesses, lack of proper nutrition, homelessness, child neglect, and sexual molestation to name a few. In fact, where I live, homeless kids have coined the term “couch surfing” to refer to how they spend their nights sleeping on the couches of friends, relatives, or anyone else that would take them in for the night. These are the children that our schools seemingly target.

What’s more troubling is that the children actually suffer more once they are incarcerated. This is because most states exempt juvenile detention officers from state child abuse and child neglect laws. In Florida, which is a top arrester of youths in America with over 58,000 arrested per year, a number of detention facilities have recently gone under review for children being allowed to die in front of guards without any call for help, children being sexually molested by staff, unnecessary beatings, and the list goes on and on.

There is a solution to this social justice dilemma. The crux of the problem is that the community must become engaged and press for resolve since schools and law enforcement refuse to take responsibility with this issue. This is a hard discussion topic for a society where many trappings of the traditional community are gone due to our nomadic existence and where the media colors our understanding of reality with sensationalized stories and filtered-out stories. This makes collaboration between nonprofits and religious institutions , on this issue, all the more critical for lasting change to take place since these are the unsung heroes doing most of the unseen social justice work in this nation.

WORKING TOGETHER; MAKING A DIFFERENCE

I suggest that interested stakeholders in the community, as well as Conflict Resolution and Restorative Justice professionals and advocates, agree to assemble at a neutral venue and break bread to talk about the problems facing their community. After all, this is how America got started! Once the problems have been stated, then the community should evaluate resources that each group can bring to the table. Since I pretty much wrote the book on this issue, here are some suggestions that I would make for consideration:

Have the school district do away with SROs. There’s simply no need for them. National statistics show time and time again juveniles make up less than 1% of the violent crimes committed in America. These are officers that can be put out on the streets to arrest real criminals, direct traffic, or engage in a number of social benefits inherent to law enforcement.

Have the school engage in Restorative Justice (RJ) and Peer Mediation practices. RJ has been proven far more effective on juveniles than any other group at reducing recidivism and also making lasting, positive behavioral changes. By the same token, peer mediation has been proven effective in handling issues typically tying up vital time normally handled needlessly by teachers. A good program should be a balance of daily circles, peer mediation, and conferencing.

Creating a peer counseling corps can offer critical support and assistance for students in needs. Like peer mediators, peer counselors are trained by professionals in the field and given similar skill sets as adult professionals in the field use in their own practices.

Establish a Neighborhood Restorative Justice Center (NRJC) as a deferment option should a child still end up in the court system. In many states, like Florida, there are already laws on the books allowing this sort of deferment but officials refuse to establish these centers. An NRJC, created by the community, allows the student that final, yet critical, opportunity to seek out atonement for their actions and to seek the help that they need.

There’s no other way to put it other than to say America’s war on youth is a national scandal. However, if handled properly, the communities around America have an opportunity to make a significant impact on the overcrowding of prisons, increasing tax revenues, increasing productivity, and re-engaging the “American dream” which has historically been our driving force in becoming a superpower in the global marketplace.###

Ken Johnson is a private researcher, writer, lecturer, and consultant on issues of culture and conflict. Organizational architecture and anabolic (positive) conflict are just some of the key issues he investigates. Though written for the school system, his book, Unbroken Circles for Schools, has core concepts which can be applied to various life applications. To learn more about Ken and his work, CLICK HERE to visit his website.