Tuesday, October 12, 2010

He Rescues The Downtrodden

I found a recent article in this month's Family Circle to be quite enlightening. Titled Too Cruel For School, there were a number of comments and statistics given that shed light beyond what I think the author even intended. Throughout the entire piece, the numbers were given to show the increase in any and all number of bullies and their attacks. 'In a 2009 study, researchers asked teachers whether they thought children's ability to get along with one another and resolve disputes had improved over the last decade, stayed about the same, declined slightly, or declined significantly. Their response was overwhelmingly negative: 75% of educators perceived a significant drop and 25% said they saw a slight decline.'

Now I understand that this is simply a matter of opinion, but these are the people who spend the most time with our nation's kids Monday through Friday - if anyone would know something about how they are behaving towards one another, you'd think it would be them, wouldn't you? And as far as how kids are conducting themselves during the times their teachers are not watching; well, I'd wager that most kids do not improve their responses and reactions when no one is around to correct them.

One of the selections chosen to boldly headline a caption was this: "In our enthusiasm to make our children smarter and stronger, we've forgotten they need time and opportunities to learn how to be competent social beings, which is every bit as important as knowing algebra and grammar." We are all painfully familiar with the common refrain of how poorly our schools are educating our children and ill-preparing them academically for life after high school. But now I'm reading that simply turning them out to be well-behaved and honorable members of society has fallen by the wayside as well. Not something I did not expect, but it is still so awful when the suspicions are verified to be true.

Here's a shocker. According to the 2010 Study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, do you know how much time per day the average child between the ages of 8 and 18 spends connected to smart phones, laptops, or other technological devices? Seven and a half hours! And that does not include the additional 1.5 hours spent texting. I'm not sure if television was included in 'plugged in' time, to be quite honest. But the grand summation is more than a full time job - 63 hours a week. "The time young people spend engaged with technology is time not spent playing on the playground, or learning verbal cues and face to face skills, like maintaining eye contact," says Gary Small, a neuroscientist at UCLA and author of iBrain: Surviving the Technological Alteration of the Modern Mind.

I found it interesting that these specialists, experts, teachers, and parents have all kinds of programs (many, very expensive) that they have found, have tried, or are willing to take a gamble on. 'But even the best of such programs are no silver bullet.' I would whole-heartedly agree with that. Even for parents such as myself who give our lives in an effort to not only educate our kids at home, but even more importantly in order to train them in the way they should go; we have no guarantees. I could not help but feel for the grasping heartache of parents who see their children in such a negative spiral and still leave them in the hands of others.

Lest anyone think that we are immune to bullying tactics and maneuvers within the homeschooling environment, let me assure you that even here the story is as old as Cain and Abel. I just recently had to have a couple of conversations with my own children and their friends. Tough girl attitudes, intimidation plays, demeaning and minimizing of a person's value, even threatening fists had come in to play. This is, unfortunately, our all-too-human nature. God desires to remake us. Our children have to be shown that a better way, His way, is a very real option.

I have been having the girls memorize some parts of Psalm 119, and we have been discussing it each day. This is no guarantee, no "silver bullet" as was mentioned. And yet I share the Lord's word with them, and trust Him to water the seeds that are being planted. In this lies my faithfulness, and the power of the Living God.

When someone treats another person in a demeaning or unkind way, it is always wrong. Our kids need to know that the Lord desires our delight in His ways at all times. They are not to be a passive audience, to watch or laugh, to allow it to continue by anything they might do or not do. His word is not simply for us to know, but to understand as a calling of the highest order as those whom He calls to follow in His steps. At times, we are to be the means of His rescue.

*How can a young man keep his way pure?
By living according to your word.

I seek you with all my heart;
do not let me stray from your commands.

I have hidden your word in my heart
that I might not sin against you.

Praise be to you, O LORD;
teach me your decrees.

With my lips I recount
all the laws that come from your mouth.

I rejoice in following your statutes
as one rejoices in great riches.

I meditate on your precepts
and consider your ways.

I delight in your decrees;
I will not neglect your word.

*Psalm 119: 9-16


  1. Hijo, mano...kids sound awful! Bullying one another, failing tests, losing social skills...it's like Planet of the Apes, but fun-sized.

    It seems like parents/teachers/neighbors/adults in general are instrumental in teaching, which is a chicken and egg situation because they're all former kids, too, and likely trained in work-evasion/awful at raising kids. Maybe the solution to raising kids is for adults to mentor adults?

  2. Honestly, we have come to that. Which would still be a good thing. It's never too late to learn, which is a comforting thought.