Wow! Lots of heavy stuff being written here, but as I'm reading I realize that the answers are so simple. Family, community, mutual respect -- the basics. The first thing that needs to be done is for parents to take back responsibility -- its not the teacher's fault, or the principal's, or the neighbor's. Yes, children are influenced by everyone around them and since school is the focus of a child's life, teachers and principals play a very important part in a child's upbringing. However, many teachers are so tired of being the "bad guys", that all they want to do is get through the day. If they sense a student in trouble and call or send a note to meet with the parent(s), instead of thanks they get grief: "I don't have time for this! Just do your job!" My friends who are teachers tell me that they have students whose parents they have never met. My mother barely spoke english, but never missed a PTA meeting. And how many people have gotten backlash from neighbors for reprimanding a child that wasn't theirs? You can't say "boo" anymore to anyone without getting a bad attitude. Everybody is too uptight worrying about somebody else "getting over" on them or getting away with something.
And lets face it -- dysfunctional is the norm. Every family has its problems, its how we deal with them that makes the difference. Some people just shouldn't have children. They should teach a basic course in parenting to high school students (before they get pregnant) explaining that rule #1 is The child comes first. Children are selfish. They need the complete attention of their parents for the first few years, at least. And after that they need to be available, they need some ESP (when is "nothin'" really something?) Its amazing to me how some people hand their children from day care to the babysitter, never spending any time with that child for a whole day. How can a child have any self-esteem if he thinks the person he admires most in the world doesn't want to spend time with him/her?
Sorry to have gone on and on, but that's my two cents!
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