Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Devil is in You

I met a gentleman named Ernie this week who was talking about his life. He is French Canadian, and grew up speaking French in his home. He attended Catholic school. When ever he answered a question in French, the nun would hit him with a ruler. He was not taught to read English, but was punished for not being able to do so. The nuns told him that his problem was that he had the Devil in him, and that their job was to drive the Devil out- mostly through punishment.

Ernie dropped out of school before graduating, and got a job working hard as a carpenter- skills he learned from family members who were also carpenters. He never learned to read or write.

I think we would all disagree with this form of education and we would not be surprised that it was not successful.

Yet, how different is this (except in degree) from our traditional ways? We see what the child has learned from their family. We do not like it, and we try to drive it out with punishment. Luckily, there is not so much hitting with rulers- more confinement to small rooms.

In various ways we convey to the kid that he has the Devil in him, and we are trying to drive that Devil out with our strictness.

And often the kid drops out of treatment, and remains emotionally illiterate. They can sometimes till be successful as Ernie is, if they find people to teach and mentor them. But they are left with a bad feeling of being a Devil-person.

There must be a better way.

1 comment:

Nitrile Gloves said...

Successful restraint and seclusion reduction happens within a trauma-informed setting. But, implementing trauma-informed care (TIC) requires system-wide culture change - - no easy task, especially with ever-more challenging clients and settings that historically have placed a premium on controlling children’s behavior.

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