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. […]
Why allowing children to live and learn freely nurtures progressive values
The institution of forced school is in panic mode right now. More and more parents are taking action to protect their children from a largely unaccountable environment that is responsible for inflicting intensifying distress upon young lives. Increasing numbers of parents are opting for arts-based charter schools, child-centered private schools, democratic schools, homeschooling and the most natural choice, unschooling. The institution of public schooling has been responsible for child abuse, human rights violations, epidemic psychiatric drugging, health risks, violence, enforcing increasingly stressful time expectations, developmentally inappropriate curriculum, lack of play and physical activity, destroying creativity and dulling children’s interest in learning. The Slate article, Liberals, Don’t Homeschool Your Kids by Dana Goldstein seems to minimize many of these human rights concerns and instead begs progressive parents to do what is in the best interest of the public schools. As a progressive parent who is unschooling a happy, socially conscious, community-involved, socially adept and creative teen son, I am asking you to instead consider what is best for your children and what is in the best interests of children’s rights in our society. Does public school nurture or violate progressive values? […]
It all started back in 1979, when I was around five years old. My next door neighbor, Toby, was my best friend at the time, and I recall a conversation he and I had on the long staircase leading up to his kitchen sliding glass door. We were having a serious discourse that both boys and girls could do and be whatever they wanted to be. We were trying to come up with some things that could disprove our theory, but we were coming up short. Suddenly, as he bit into his snack, Toby piped up, […]
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. […]
I am deeply concerned about the recent surge in violence towards children in the name of “Christian” values, religion, parental rights and school “discipline”. Pain infliction on children seems to have a hold on the cultural beliefs of Americans like an ugly memory that won’t fade. Pain infliction on children in this article refers to “spanking” and other forms of “corporal punishment”, including smacking, paddling, grabbing, yanking, squeezing, shaking, not allowing children to eliminate bodily waste, or to hydrate or to eat when they have the need. Pain infliction also includes, but is not limited to, forcing exercise or fixed body positions as punishment.
Let’s call these acts what they truly are: Assaultive, hurtful, distressing, traumatizing and violence against children. These acts are cruel and considered acts of assault or even torture when inflicted upon adults. Despite that 31 countries have abolished the use of pain infliction to control or punish children, Americans continue to believe that controlling a child through pain infliction is acceptable. […]
Talk of “education reform” is viral all over the internet. Despite multiple failed attempts at “reform” over the past decades, society refuses to think outside the “box” of schooling and consider a radical return to how children learned for millennia- By playing, living and doing! Teachers and others in the field of education continue to propose that the oppressive, prison-like institution where children are forced to stay seated in a building all day pumping out paperwork can and should be reformed! When democratic schooling, homeschooling and unschooling advocates attempt to join the conversation and offer models that are successful and truly radical, they are often met by educators and their supporters who dismiss these models as idealistic and not “realistic” for “everyone”. Additionally, people seem not to be aware of the fact that despite talks of reform, the needs, voices and leadership of the people who are the most adversely affected by public schooling- youth- are left out of the conversation. […]
Recent headlines of women avoiding jail time after being charged with sexually assaulting children or being freed after being charged with murder are shocking to the conscience:
Knox Freed After Conviction Overturned http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/44752948/ns/world_news-europe/#.TopOqnJVXYg
Casey Anthony Freed From Jail http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory?id=14089837
Debra Lafave: Probation Ended for Florida Teacher Guilty of Student Sex Scandal http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/218521/20110922/debra-lafave-probation-ended-for-florida-teacher-guilty-of-student-sex-scandal.htm
Female Teacher Avoids Jail Time in Statutory Rape Case http://www.bostonsexualabuselawyer.com/2011/01/female-teacher-avoids-jail-tim.html […]
I am sharing the words of my 17 year old son in response to Ron Clark’s article, What Teachers Really Want to Tell Parents. Brycen is an unschooler and the vocalist and songwriter for his Glam Metal band project, Serenade II Darkness.
by Brycen R. R. Couture
This is my second response to Ron Clark’s article, What Teachers Really Want to Tell Parents. My Mom, Laurie A. Couture, also wrote a response to his article, What Parents Really Want to Tell Teachers. This is what I say from a child’s perspective to Ron Clark and to teachers like him. […]
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: […]
Sometimes school propaganda comes out that is so obviously, shockingly dehumanizing to children and undermining of the parent-child relationship that it amazes me that anyone dared print it. The viral CNN article, What Teachers Really Want to Tell Parents by Disney-and-Oprah-endorsed Ron Clark, epitomizes the word “propaganda” and gets a gold star for its audacity in dehumanizing children and undermining the parent-child relationship. Homeschooling author, Linda Dobson, immediately tackled the article with a blog post that paragraph by paragraph exposed the hypocrisy and callousness of teachers’ attitudes towards children and parents.
Public schools are government institutions that have literally taken control of much of the global population and most world cultures. By holding all children under 18 as hostages, against their wills, this infectious institution forces the population to deny the self, homogenize, obey and consume. By choking down an irrelevant, carefully engineered “education” in a factory-like environment, children are conditioned to ignore their bodies, emotions, passions, interests, questions, ideas, creative impulses, purposes and needs. In the US, this multi-billion dollar social conditioning machine trains children to take their place assisting the United States in remaining the World power through economic and political globalization. This control of the population was the intent of public schooling when it was made into law in 1852. […]
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.” […]
When children are hit, beaten, hurt, sexually exploited, sexually assaulted, emotionally and mentally tormented, physically and emotionally neglected or murdered at the hands of parents and caretakers, it is an egregious tragedy. When a tragic case of child abuse breaks into the media, if the parents labeled themselves as “homeschoolers”, the media often spins the story to insinuate that “homeschooling” (or what appeared to be homeschooling) is what caused the abuse or allowed the abuse to occur. This deeply saddens me. The majority of cases of child abuse occur in homes where children attend public or traditional school. I can testify to this as I have sadly been working with abused youth of all ages since the 1990’s. […]
It is almost the year 2011. A new year, one year into the new decade, 11 years into the new millennium. It shocks me to the core and I take for granted the fact that mainstream society still holds onto corporal punishment like a tenacious toxic addiction that it just can’t release. It is egregious that in 2010, corporal punishment, “spanking” (or- let’s call it what it is- legalized child abuse), is still legal in children’s homes in all 50 US states and legal in schools in 20 states. Compare that to the fact that the same type of assault against an adult is illegal in all 50 states. While spouses, partners, parents, teachers, psychiatric patients, senior citizens, disabled adults, employees, soldiers, prisoners and all other adult citizens enjoy legal protection from assault, children under 18, our most vulnerable and developmentally fragile citizens, do not hold even this most basic human right.
Is it just ignorance or is there something more complicated going on that causes our society to view children as sub-human in status, not entitled to basic human rights protections enjoyed by fully grown people? […]
Abuse/Neglect of Children is the Root of All of the World’s Problems; Punishment Won’t Heal, Only Attachment and Need-Meeting
The story of the Plaistow NH father who bruised, bit and broke the bones of his three newborn triplets while the mother stood by passively praying, not calling the police, is just horrifying beyond all belief- The torture these baby boys and baby girl have endured is shocking to the conscience; I imagine for the adults to behave in this manner the same or similar must have been done to them- I have worked with children severely tortured this way as infants and when they are older youth, people expect them to behave normally. When they display severely disturbed behavior, “professionals” label them and do not seem to make the obvious connection between the torment in infancy and their current behavior. People who can’t see the connection between childhood abuse (including spanking), neglect as well as poor parent-child attachment and later adult pathology are bound to be blind to the fact that the world’s problems are a result of generations of this cycle of abuse and neglect of childen’s basic needs. They are equally blind to the fact that healing the world won’t be accomplished by punishment and hatred, but by a return to human attachment, bonding and need-meeting.
Regarding the phenomena of “children without a conscience”, conscience, or human moral/spiritual development, develops in the context of secure parent-child attachment or nurturing, loving caretakers. If a child has “no conscience” (total lack of empathy for the victim), they have had no sense of own their needs mattering to anyone or being met. These are the children of cold, indifferent, detached and often abusive parents. These children can be habilitated by loving, nurturing caretakers committing to them and showing strong leadership, firm sense of restitution and high expectations, as well as a huge amount of empathy, compassion, physical affection and care to the child’s emotional and physical needs. Brain scans of Romanian orphans deprived of human attachment actually show that conscience cannot develop in love-deprived children.