Friday, May 30, 2008

When Advocates are Called to Protect

As I have been learning about the recent story of Alex Barton, I have been disgusted by what has happened and concerned about why such treatment of children is allowed.

As I read this account on Christschool's blog of how this teacher and other officials who were looking into the matter were describing these events, I was reminded of my biggest concern. I am concerned that the attitude this teacher displays is not new, and it has been woven into so much of our cultural fabric, that it can be glossed over much too easily.

I'm so glad that there are so many who have spoken up and said how wrong what this teacher did really is. It bothers me that so many people have been unaware that this attitude is as prevalent as it is. For something so wrong to be described so innocently by these officials reminds me that we are too often using our sophistication to cover how we act in ways that are primitive and shameless.

The human race is not moving forward when compassion is not our top priority. The goal of everyone being safe must include emotional safety, especially for our children. Every type of inappropriate violent act begins with someone feeling emotionally vulnerable. Therefore, all safety needs to begin with the emotional safety of children.

Alex and every five-year-old child needs to know that they can trust those who are in authority over them. They need to know that they can grow and learn in an environment that allows them to be free from feeling the need to protect themselves.

Right now Alex needs to know that teachers are provided for him to assist his learning, people wearing law enforcement uniforms are available to protect him, and whenever the educational system misbehaves or treats a child wrongly, that the public will step in and advocate for children. His mother needs to know that many of us really do care and that she and her son will not be alienated when the system they depend on acts inappropriately.

We need for teachers and people who work within the educational system that are doing a good job in the right way to know that they will not be micro managed or wrongly accused. That can't happen if the public looks the other way when an injustice has been done.

Children will identify adults by the roles we play in their lives. They will know what the teacher looks like because they guide and protect them when they are at school, protectors of the law will be wearing police uniforms, and the public who advocates for them and protects them when any of these officials do wrong will be known by us showing up when they need us. They will know what we who are advocates look like by us showing them that we care, that we won't look away when they need help, and that we will be there to do whatever we can when they need us.

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