Laurie A. Couture on Attachment Parenting, Unschooling, Social Justice and The Planet

If School Were Relevant, it Wouldn’t Be Compulsory

15 October 2013 Categories: children's rights, public school

(Photo by Laurie A. Couture)

(Photo by Laurie A. Couture)

In a democracy, holding someone hostage, subjecting them to unpaid work and denying them the right to meet their basic needs is a human rights violation. However, since the 1850′s we have been subjecting children to these conditions daily, calling it “education”.

Most children do not want to go to a place where every joy about being a child is controlled, banned or used as a reward or punishment. They don’t want to go to a place where their basic physical and emotional needs, such as food, hydration, elimination, physical activity, play, rest, sleep, comfort, affection and attention, are at the mercy of the people controlling them.

Children grow weary of years and years of being in a box that stifles their innate creative passions, interests and unique ways of learning. Children struggle to learn in environments that are increasingly developmentally inappropriate, hostile and stressful the older that they grow. Kinesthetic learners, especially boys, are especially agonized by being forced to sit sedentary for hours in chairs doing mindless busywork that bears no relevance to their way of exploring and interacting with the world.

Fiery, brilliant, kinesthetic, out-spoken explorers and creatives are often labeled in school as having brain disorders or behavioral problems and are subsequently referred for chemical restraint (i.e. “medication”). As if six hours per day, five days per week isn’t enough time stolen from the most creative and ingenious years of their lives, children are still expected to hand over the remaining few hours of their family, social, play and free time for daily, weekend, vacation and even summer “homework”!

Can we blame children for not wanting to go along with such conditions?

When certain freethinking children assert themselves and refuse to continue to blindly succumb to treatment that has made them miserable for years, we should be praising and supporting them! However, Portsmouth, New Hampshire and other cities in the “Live Free or Die” state are now using law enforcement to keep children oppressed and compliant with their own captivity. As the mother of a unschooled son who is now in college, I am appalled that in this society we treat children as if they have subhuman status. I am equally shocked and disgusted to read that the police are violating children’s private bedroom space and using physical force, physical abuse and even arrest to muscle them to attend school. In the recent case, a Portsmouth NH police officer used physical force to intimidate a 12 year old child to get out of bed. The officer also grabbed the 14 year old brother to get him out of his bed, then arrested the child when he attempted to fight back.

Imagine how you would feel if your employer sent a police officer to your home on a day that you did not go into work. Imagine how you would feel if that officer broke into your bedroom, demanded that you uncover yourself and get up. Imagine how you would feel if the officer grabbed and attacked you when you did not comply. Imagine how you would feel if the officer arrested and handcuffed you and took you away from your home before you had a chance to use the bathroom and eat breakfast. Would you want to return to a work place that sanctions that type of treatment of employees? Now imagine this happening to you when you were at the vulnerable age of 14, at a place where you are forced to do unpaid labor. Why is the community not outraged that schools collude with this treatment of children?

According to the number of times the police had reportedly been called to the home of the two children in the above case, the children demonstrated on at least 40 occasions that their school is not an environment that meets their needs. Why has their mother continued to insist that they attend?

Most parents are not aware that homeschooling is legal in all 50 states. They are also not aware of the many other alternatives to traditional public school such as alternative schools, charter schools, virtual online schools, early college and democratic, child-led schools. The media fails to educate parents about how simple it is to get started with homeschooling and that there is a strong homeschool community with active groups and social activities available to homeschoolers of all ages. When children’s needs are met, when their learning is driven by their own interests, when they are free to learn via their own their unique learning styles and when they are honored and respected, every child can succeed. The media does little to bring attention to educational alternatives, leading parents to believe that leaving their children to suffer in public school- or get arrested- is the only option.

This post is based on my article that appeared in the September 28, 2013 edition of the Portsmouth Herald under the title, Embrace Options to Public Schools.

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Want to Teach Your Son Not to Rape? Protect HIM from Rape and Sexual Violence!

25 March 2013 Categories: child abuse, children's rights

Our society is being swept up in an intensifying wave of ignorance and disinformation about rape. That ignorance and disinformation is putting the public’s safety at risk. It is causing harm to everyone’s children- including to YOUR children.

The Ohio rape, like any other rape of a girl, boy, man or woman, is a chilling tragedy. The media’s viral coverage of the story incited people to go into a frenzy of typing, posting, tweeting, sharing, ranting and blogging. Unfortunately, people have been lapping up any status, graphic, statistic, quote or rant that has shown up in their newsfeeds without stopping to question the source or the media frenzy they are perpetuating. This media frenzy is less focused on the victim and is instead focused on spreading more violence in the form of pushing political agendas, spreading disinformation about sexual violence and its causes, vilifying males and promoting demonization of the boys who committed the rape. The ignorance has reached such a pathological level that one blog post I saw was equating a two year old boy hugging a girl without her consent as being a precursor to rape!

Everywhere I look, I see posts about “teaching” boys not to rape, as if girls and women don’t rape… And as if boys are born to rape and it must be “taught” and shamed out of them. Sound familiar? Remember the macabre Puritanical beliefs of centuries long ago that poisoned our culture with the belief that children were born “evil” and the “evil” needed to be beaten out of them? Centuries of brutal child abuse and cultural violence can be traced back to that psychotic belief. Most intelligent, thinking people have now caught up to the brain science that shows us that children are born to love and be loved; to be peaceful and benevolent. Most intelligent people have now caught up to the brain science that shows that violence is learned when children are its victims; that childhood trauma, abuse and violence permanently alters neurological and psychological development and can cause the very tragedy we saw in Ohio.

Or maybe people really haven’t caught up to the brain science about children at all.

This painful Ohio story has lead me to believe that our culture is still centuries behind the brain science, steeped in icy religious tradition and cold modern political theory that dares whisper that some children are just bad. Or, more bluntly to what is being currently perpetuated, boys are bad.

Let me put these facts about boys and “the rape culture” bluntly:

If you don’t want your son to rape, then don’t rape HIM.

Don’t allow ANYONE, woman, man, boy, girl, teacher, family member or babysitter to rape or sexually assault HIM. [...]

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Bully Film Misses Obvious Solution: Abandon School (and Let Youth Create Their Own Education)!

18 March 2013 Categories: children's rights, public school

(Official Bully movie poster)

I reviewed the film documentary, Bully on Amazon.com. Documenting and exposing the reality of children being tormented by peers in traditional schools is commendable. The humanizing footage of the bullied children, including footage of their emotional suffering and home-video of them at various stages of their childhoods, was painfully powerful. The film’s exposé of the infuriating  incompetence, minimization and victim-blaming shown by the adults towards the victimized children was outstanding. Of course, the stories of  the children who took their own lives were  some of the most heartwrenching “wake-up calls” in the film.

However, despite these strengths, I gave the film only a three-star rating for the following reasons:

1. The film failed to address that the root causes of peer bullying are child maltreatment by adults and the child-subordinating power structure of schooling itself.

2. The film failed to state that the most obvious immediate solution to protect bullied youth is for parents to rescue their children by abandoning the schools.

The film also left viewers with a false sense of “hope”. Emotional community rallies, slogans on bracelets, pledges, Facebook groups and bringing passionate speakers to schools will not put an end a problem that is a symptom of a much larger problem: The inhumane way children are treated by adults in Industrialized culture. [...]

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VAWA Must Be Renamed, Rewritten to be Gender Neutral

24 January 2013 Categories: children's rights

Brycen and L

Protect our vulnerable boys! Rename and rewrite VAWA so it is gender-neutral.

(Note: Although I appreciate the support, this is copyrighted material. This article may not be reposted to your blog without permission/payment, however a link is appreciated.)

This is an open letter to Democratic Leader, Nancy Pelosi, who strongly supports reinstating the gender-biased Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). For the past 18 years, VAWA has been renewed without public debate. VAWA fails to support boys and men who are victims of sexual and domestic violence. It also fails to acknowledge that women perpetrate sexual and domestic violence against children and adults.

I mailed a hard copy of this letter to Nancy Pelosi, along with a list of studies and reports supporting my statements. I sent a similar letter to Governor Maggie Hassan of NH, who also supports VAWA. For this post, I included a partial listing of the resources. I also redacted my address and information personal to my family.

As a child advocate, I feel it is my duty as a professional to demand equality, compassion and fairness in laws that have the potential to help or harm children.

January 24, 2013

Office of the Democratic Leader
H-204, US Capitol
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Honorable Leader Nancy Pelosi,

I am a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, a children’s rights advocate and former social worker. I have worked with children of all ages and families in various roles for 20 years. I am a registered Democrat, a strong humanitarian and community activist. I am requesting that VAWA be renamed The Sexual And Domestic Violence Act and rewritten so that it is gender neutral.

I am writing to express my dismay at how politics have infected the fields of human services in the past several years, to the point where I am seeing a chronic lack of compassion and a dangerous apathy towards the suffering of male victims of sexual and domestic violence. [...]

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Male Genital Mutilation: American Academy of Pediatrics Says OK!

01 September 2012 Categories: child abuse, children's rights

AAP = No Ethics Campaign photo by The EPICoutures for The WHOLE Network

On August 27, 2012, the human rights of children and gender equality for boys took a devastating and shameful blow: The American Academy of Pediatrics released a position statement sanctioning the outmoded, ancient practice of genital cutting of male children. Their new statement shockingly reversed their former position of discouraging male circumcision which had already fallen short of promoting genital integrity. The community of children’s rights activists known as “Intactivisits”, was shocked to the core. This community of Intactivisits includes scientists, doctors, nurses, mental health counselors, human rights activists, parents and victims who have worked tirelessly for years to educate the public about the dangers, trauma and suffering caused to boys and men of Male Genital Mutilation. It seems almost surreal; nightmarish, in fact- that a physicians organization as powerful and influential as The American Academy of Pediatrics would support legalized sexual assault, torture and permanent penile mutilation of boys under 18. [...]

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An Unschooled Teen’s Vision For World Peace: Love and Respect Children

30 June 2012 Categories: Attachment parenting, children's rights, public school

Laurie’s son, Brycen at his unschool graduation ceremony, June 2012

“If every action you made had loving intentions, if every move we made was born of love, the world would be healed, the world would be whole.” -Brycen R. R. Couture

On June 9, 2012,  our family and friends gathered at a beautiful ocean side park to celebrate and honor my son’s unschooling journey with an unschool graduation ceremony. A month prior to the celebration, Brycen was chosen to be featured as a Youth Luminary on Inspire Me Today.com. His profile and his 500-word essay were featured on their site, today, 6/30/12!

Unfortunately, some of Brycen’s words about traditional school were edited out of the Inspire Me Today.com posting. Below is Brycen’s entire, unedited essay on achieving world peace through love and treating children with respect. To see the Inspire Me Today.com post as well as his profile, please click here. [...]

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When No Presidential Candidate is for Children

09 January 2012 Categories: children's rights

The New Hampshire primaries are tomorrow and my son, Brycen is now just old enough to vote in his first election. Both of us, usually considering ourselves very progressive, face an ethical dilemma in 2012. The problem at hand is that NO candidate or side in any US Presidential election is for children’s rights, or for total compassion for all people and living things! Human and environmental rights have been co-opted into political “isms” and funding lobbies, with groups using propaganda and rhetoric to deceive people into believing they want equality for all, rights for all humans and respite for our planet. In actuality, they want funding for their narrow-minded political causes. Here I discuss each Party’s record on children’s rights and overall social and environmental justice. [...]

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What Parents Really Want to Tell Teachers: What You Do Hurts Our Children

12 September 2011 Categories: children's rights, public school

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Needs (Image by Factoryjoe)

Many parents are shaking their heads at the audacity and insolence of the CNN article, What Teachers Really Want to Tell Parents by Disney-and-Oprah-endorsed teacher, Ron Clark. His article is dangerous because it represents how the majority of traditional school teachers view children, parents and teachers’ roles as authorities over children’s lives. In my post, What Teachers Really Need to Hear From Parents, I challenge Ron Clark to consider the dehumanization of children and the undermining of the parent-child bond in the institution he represents.

Most parents in industrialized societies are conditioned by their own schooling to be obedient and unquestioning of their children’s schools and the so-called authorities therein. A frightening majority of parents are unaware that most everything that traditional school teachers do is developmentally inappropriate and even harmful for youth of all ages. However, a growing movement of parents are parenting through awareness, consciousness and connection to their children’s needs. Many of these parents are opting out of public and traditional schools are are seeking refuge for their children in child-centered and democratic schools or through homeschooling and unschooling. As a mother of an unschooling teen son, and based on the years of complaints I have heard from parents and their children about traditional schools, I have compiled a list of  concerns and presented them to teachers in the context of their own education: [...]

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Please Help Create Christian’s Law to Protect Abused Children

12 July 2011 Categories: child abuse, children's rights, Uncategorized

In 2009, 13 year old Christian Choate was beaten to death after years of physical and mental torture by his father and step mother. He was confined to a wire dog cage for the last year of his life, not being allowed to eat, hydrate, use the toilet, play or move around. He wrote pages of heart-wrenching accounts of his suffering, wondering when an adult would come to rescue him. After dying from blows to the head, his body was wrapped in trash bags, buried and encased in cement by his father and step mother. In July of 2011, his body was finally discovered by authorities.

For ten years prior to Christian’s death, child protective authorities investigated and visited the family, most of the time concluding that they found “no evidence” of abuse and neglect. The Indiana child protective (DCS) spokesperson, Anne Houseworth claimed, “We followed all state laws, all policies and procedures.” She added, “If we don’t see evidence of abuse, and no one admits anything is going on, there is nothing for us to do.” [...]

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Child Advocacy and Children’s Rights Resolutions for the New Decade

02 January 2010 Categories: children's rights

With every decade that passes, new legal and civil rights have been fought for and won for every group of adults in Westernized cultures. The fight continues around the globe in order to share those legal protections with oppressed populations in other cultures. With each passing decade, there have been landmark victories won that validate the journey for adults to assert their basic human rights- In the 00′s, gay marriage was the fight that finally found victory in the United States.

However, children seem to exist in a surreal incubator; a sterile laboratory in which they are viewed and treated as if they are human beings-in-the-making, like objects waiting to be assembled, or feelingless, spiritless bodies waiting for someone to bestow humanity onto them. Decade after decade passes, and yet an industrialized child’s world always looks the same, with little more than trite hope of obtaining any real victories beyond the superficial “right” to be intoxicated consumers and technology automatons. [...]

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