My Response To The Abuse Of Our Children Cleverly Disguised As Discipline

Would it surprise you to hear that man’s unhappiness is due in large measure to the way he is seeking after happiness? After reading an article Living In America Will Drive You Insane I couldn’t help but think just how depressing the future must appear for teens and why they seem to be rebelling against accepted norms, particularly in terms of the things that make them happy. Unfortunately, children who reject traditionally accepted norms face discipline and expulsion from public schools when they deviate from the prescribed course. As the SAC Chair at a local middle school, I spent the past few years fighting the growing practice of punishing students for actions that are typical teenage defiance. The punitive School Code of Conduct has caused schools to become the greatest contributors to juvenile incarceration.   

While Universities, encourage free thinking and take great strides to deal with student misconduct outside of the criminal justice system, public schools’ rigid design force conformity and use the criminal justice system as their first line of defense to deter dissension. This is of great concern to parents of African-American boys, in particular, knowing what we know about the treatment of minorities by police officers. As a result, parents are scrambling to find help to address adolescent defiance in a nurturing and healthy environment.

Like most parents, I too am concerned that the people hired and elected to protect and serve us are least likely to discipline children of color with love and patience during the most challenging and confusing years of their development.  Having taught in traditional and alternative education programs, in addition to raising 4 independent thinkers, I know the importance of discipline but use it to encourage reflective thought and not to force conformity. Discipline that is designed to correct and build up and not tear down and destroy.

In an effort to support parents and school officials dealing with the growing numbers and complex discipline problems facing schools, I’ve agreed to serve on the School Board established “Parent Advocacy Committee.”  I understanding that due to bureaucracy and legal entanglements, change to school policies could take years. Frankly folks, our kids just don’t have that kind of time. So I’ve partnered with men from my community to implement a Teen Wilderness Therapy Program that will be hosted at Green Zone Farms. The mission of the Retreat and Wilderness Therapy Program is to empower young men to overcome unhealthy attitudes and behaviors in a uniquely structured and supportive family environment, that focuses on each student’s strengths, engages them to become productive individuals and transitions them to enjoy successful, satisfying lives.

Wilderness Therapy at Green Zone Farms will provide teens and parents with a means of navigating through the complications of teenage development with the assistance of Mother Nature. The program will be piloted through a Survival Summer Camp for Boys starting on June 15, 2015. Using “The Seven Paths’ to teach the path of ‘We’, each young man will discover the roots of his conflict and the way toward reconciliation. Basic survival skills, self-defense, and entrepreneurship will be included in his rites of passage experience.

Rather than gaining enlightenment from our journey, many of us have become disconnected from nature and each other as we pursue selfish gains resulting in unhappiness, broken relationships, sickness and disease. If living in America will drive us insane, can we really blame kids who chose a different course for happiness like Logan LaPlante. Join the Revolution of Responsibility taking place at Green Zone Farms.

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