Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Cultural Differences

Shrinkwrapped has a post up this week regarding “the connection between ADHD, the poor showing of boys (relative to girls) in academia, and over-stimulation.”

As we know, boys are more likely to be diagnosed as ADHD, that is, as having a disordered ability to attend to any given situation and a tendency to hyperactivity which the child cannot seem to control.

Shrinkwrapped makes the very good point that over-stimulation of a child can be a defining cause of ADHD. If this is something you’ve not thought about, I’ll illustrate the point with a few situations which result in over-stimulation of children, beginning with my favorite demon, TV -- that ubiquitous companion with its fast-tempoed cutting of images and sounds. Think of the synapses forming in a growing child’s brain and then consider the effect this process has on all of that chemistry. And I don’t mean the content of what the child sees — though that certainly can be a problem, too — so much as the process by which the child is turned from being this: a person who can attend for a set amount of time to something novel in its environment, to this: a whirling dervish whose mind changes channels as frequently as his father changes them while channel-surfing whatever cable offerings are available. The neural pathways in his brain have been re-routed.

That’s one way to create ADHD. It’s simply a matter of making sure nothing settles down to a level which can be contained, processed and metabolized by the child. That is the essence of over-stimulation.

Here are a few more: Chuck E. Cheese’s. The perfect ADHD environment. If you were designing a way to ensure ADHD, you couldn’t do better than that whole body experience. Theme parks, where children run from fantasy to fantasy, always chasing more and more and more. TV ads geared to kids do the same thing; they create the desire for more and more which results in the frenzy of “having.”

And then, the most serious one: child sexual abuse by a trusted caretaker. In this country, sexual exploitation of our children is becoming more serious and more pervasive each year. It’s one of the reasons that ADHD is being increasingly diagnosed. As families break up and re-form into blended families, or as single young girls have babies and follow that with serial relationships with men who are not their children's father, children are left at the mercy of parental substitutes who are not related to them by blood kinship — and often not even in legal kinship arrangements. The risk of sexual and physical abuse for these children is extremely high.

At a childcare conference I attended about twelve years ago, the speaker -- a man who was at the time in charge of investigating all the reported SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)deaths in New York City -- claimed that one hundred percent of the pre-verbal children in large daycare centers in the City had been sexually or physically abused. I have never been able to trace that statistic (and unfortunately, the speaker rushed from the conference to the airport to stay ahead of a snowstorm).


If you think it’s bad here (and it is) just consider the case in Muslim countries. Who knows if it’s specifically Muslim “cultures” or not? Whatever the cause, children in Palestine, in Pakistan, in Indonesia,in Afghanistan, are simply objects to be used by adults. Remember Mukhtar Mai and the gang rape she endured in her village — a gang rape inflicted by the village council in order to “restore honor” to a powerful family who had originally gang-raped her little brother? Mukhtar Mai was an exception — she fought the situation all the way to world-wide fame. Unfortunately, millions of others are ground under by a cultural system which considers women and children as easily disposed of, as less than fully human — which by sharia law is granted only to adult males.

[Before I am assailed by Muslims who want to argue with my assertions, let me say that American culture is pernicious in a different way. We hurt our boys in a manner opposite, by showing girls preference, by creating Orwellian laws like the Title IX monstrosity that dictates "equal" intramural college sports, thereby killing them off, by loading all the child-oriented bureaucracies (schools and social work) with women, by demanding that little boys act like girls, by feminizing masculinity into a caricature of what it ought to be, and by having men absent in the raising of children. We are driving the dignity of manhood out of our culture and we are paying a terrible price. The percentage of men in college is now lower than that of women and that is just the beginning of a long slide down the hill to a skewed culture]

Sharia law is probably closely connected to terrorism. Even more than that, one of the unintended consequences of sharia law is the risk it sets up for women and children to be abused. One form this abuse takes is over-stimulation through sexual contact. Girls may not be physically intruded upon since their worth depends on their "honor." Thus, the use of boys. And one possible channel for boy children's shame is to grow to adulthood in islamic culture and in turn use their status as "full" human beings to project fear and terror and random mayhem onto others who cannot fight back. Having lived it in their formative years, it is a scenario they understand intimately.

For an extreme and well-documented example, think of Palestine. Not only is the family system dysfunctional (to put it mildly) but the pedagogical culture functions to create little terror monsters who crave the acceptance of the bigger monsters in their midst. Schools teach hatred of others and inculcate meaningfulness in the idea of being willing to die for one’s beliefs, especially to die and take others with them. It is an extreme, calculated and distorted chauvinism whose highest ideal is martyrdom. Toddlers are dressed as mujahideen, complete with armament. In our culture, on the other hand, children are taught just the opposite: they are told repeatedly that understanding American history means exposing how cruel and unusual our history was and how badly our ancestors behaved toward others. Our little ones are expected to internalize atonement for the sins of their forebears and to act on this belief of sinfulness, whether it be in the form of constant apology or that of recompense for our victims. Celebration? Of what??

Family life in the Middle East is not pretty:
     Throughout the Islamic Middle East, men and women are taught to be vehemently opposed to pleasure, especially of the sexual variety. Men are raised not only forbidden to touch women, but to even look at them. Sex before marriage is not just a sin -- but a criminal offence. It is punishable by a severe beating at best, and an execution at worst.
The sexual privileges that are allowed in Islamic cultures are permitted to men. Women’s sexuality and social independence represent major threats to male supremacy and are tightly controlled. Thus, as the Moroccan feminist Fitna Sabbah reveals in her book Woman in the Muslim Unconscious, there is a disturbing conflict in the Middle East between sexual libido and repression. A deep-seated fear of, and hostility to, individuality prevails, and its main expression exists in misogyny.
Socially segregated from women, Arab men succumb to homosexual behavior. But, interestingly enough, there is no word for "homosexual" in their culture in the modern Western sense. That is because having sex with boys, or with effeminate men, is seen as a social norm. Males serve as available substitutes for unavailable women. The male who does the penetrating, meanwhile, is not emasculated any more than if he had sex with a wife. The male who is penetrated is emasculated. The boy, however, is not, since it is rationalized that he is not yet a man.
Think of the repercussions of such experiences of over-stimulation on young male children where they understand that their turn will come as they grow into adulthood in a culture which encourages them to pass on their experience (for that, after all, is the essence of “culture”).

In our American world, such sexually used boys will be the hyperactive, disorganized drop-outs who understand intuitively that they do not fit in; there is no place for them except prison or institutions. In the Islamic world, they will be the bombers, the passers-on of violence directed at others.

Our boy victims are more fortunate than their muslim counterparts. While shame may result in repressed memories and acting-out behaviors, they are considered victims, not objects. The humiliation of the American Catholic Church is the result of its well-deserved contempt by those who know that the Church did little or nothing to protect its boy children from predator priests. Can you imagine a similar public response in a Muslim country? I can’t either.

In a September visit to the US, here’s what Pakistan’s President Musharraf said about the “problem” of rape in his country:
     The "easiest way" for Pakistani women to make money is to get raped, he said, so they're lining up to be raped and thus making him look bad… "You must understand the environment in Pakistan… This has become a moneymaking concern. A lot of people say if you want to go abroad and get a visa for Canada or citizenship and be a millionaire, get yourself raped…It is the easiest way of doing it. Every second person now wants to."
Of course he was referring to Mukhtar Mai’s campaign to have the crimes against her redressed. And having said it, he denied doing so — except that the Washington Post has him on tape (see the previous link).

Phyllis Chesler has written extensively about the problem of sexual perversion — for surely that is what this is — in Islamic countries. But she adds another ingredient to an already overflowing pot:
     Widespread child sexual abuse leads to paranoid, highly traumatized, and revenge-seeking adults. Based on my own experience in Afghanistan (a non-Arab, Muslim culture), a polygamous, patriarchal culture also leads to an infernal, fraternal competition for paternal favor and inheritance. It is brother against brother, full brothers against half-brothers, full and half brothers against first cousins--and thus, can entire families and clans remain locked in revenge-fueled mortal combat for generations.
In other words, in addition to the vengeful after-effects there is the additional burden of scarcity of affection and opportunity. In America, you can move away and attempt to start a new life. You can sue for civil damages (as the Church has learned). You can take advantage of the possibilities that exist to heal and transcend your fated childhood. No, you cannot be the person you might have been had you not endured that over-stimulation, pain, and humiliation. But you may be fortunate to process and transform those memories so they can no longer hurt you. You can metabolize your experiences so that you are able to think, to contain thought, and to have enough inner space to contemplate decisions. No longer fated to repeat your history, you are freed from it.

In Muslim countries, you can turn to warfare and terrorism and physical triumph to expunge your devils. But that’s all there is. No redemption, no hope of transformation. However, you can choose a glorious death — that is definitely one opportunity open to you.

Who'd have thought Liberty could appear in so many guises?


Mussolini said...

Taken on its own, there can almost never be a solution - the co-dependent sickness would forever gaurantee a line of successors.

Papa Ray said...

I remember a period sometime in the seventys-eightys (I don't remember exactly) where there were hundreds of books dealing with co-dependency. They sold like hotcakes. It seemed like it was on all the talk shows also.

What ever happened, did it just go away, is it being ignorned now by the media, authors and professionals?

Or was it just so much overhype and coverup for abuse under other names?

Beats me.

Papa Ray
West Texas

Chris said...

This is very good, except for the anecdote about 100% of infants being abused in NYC day care centers. I have had my mother (who was a social worker) repeat the canard about 25% of women in America being abused. I argue that if the percentage were that high, then society would disintegrate.

PhilippinesPhil said...

An amazing post. It explains a few things. During the first Gulf War I was stationed on an Emirate Air Force Base. No local Arabs in uniform, except a couple pilots, just Egyptians and Pakistanis. We had a few women in our military midst, and just having them there gave us a sense of "normalcy;" difficult to explain. Anyway, the "mercenary" muslim airmen would approach us in a friendly fashion and we were thrilled and flattered that they wanted to socialize with them. But invariably it would get uncomfortable when they started asking us for "magazines." What kind of magazines, we'd ask? We would bring them some TIME, NEWSWEEK, PEOPLE, and such, and they would gather around and thumb through them as nervous and tense as I've ever seen anyone, but soon it became apparent those weren't the kinds of magazines they had in mind, and they soon lost interest. What they yearned for were magazines with WOMEN, and as naked as we could get them. These poor guys were completely starved for the female form. They were visibly shaking as they looked over our mags, AND over their shoulders. I was uncomfortable just watching them. They were terrified of being caught with illicit materials I guess. Poor guys. That way of life is so against man's nature, that I can't, for the life of me, figure out how Islam can have spread throughout the world the way it has. It's precepts and carnal requirments seem so counter to a human being's basic nature.

airforcewife said...

Just on the subject of ADHD, and not its causes... When I was teaching in schools (as opposed to homeschooling), in a public school in New HampshireI had to send 9 of the 13 boys in my 6th grade class to get ADHD meds before lunch.

In Catholic Schools I had some boys on meds, but not as many.

In most of the cases I noticed that, rather than boys needing medication to live normal lives - these were normal boys who were not allowed to be normal boys. Rather than learning to control themselves in appropriate situations, they were expected to behave like little girs (because, you know, gender differences are solely due to socialization) in all situations.

This rise in medication of my students corresponded with a dropping of PE classes (drop in frequency, and drop in activity in the PE classes), and change of break time to a "sit quietly and snack" rather than run amuk and get rid of some energy, as it was when I was a child.

I think there is truth to your assertions of causes of ADHD, but I think that, in 80% or more of the cases, parents and school teachers just don't want to deal with boys.

And that is why my son will be homeschooling, at least for the beginning of his school career.

ShrinkWrapped said...

A young Kuwaiti man (with a Saudi passport because his father is Saudi) who is a close friend of my oldest son told us that "all Arab" teenagers spend all their time surfing the internet looking for porn. I think his comment was only partly hyperbole and should not be restricted to teenagers. In the Middle East, for the average boy/man of average means, the opportunities to marry and have sexual contact with a woman, are extremely limited; most do not (can not) marry until their 30's; 72 virgins might look tempting after a while.

Mussolini said...

Looking at this from a young muslim woman's perspective...

YMW (young muslim woman) has survived a decade or more of incest without anyone finding out to stone her to death, has survived genital mutilation so that she can never really get enything out of a male-female union, has survived a decade or more of physical abuse from her "loving" male relatives, has survived a decade or more of public exposure where any proximity to a muslim male could get her stoned to death, has survived a decade or more not pissing any muslim male off that might result in a trumped up prostitution charge out of spite that would get her stoned to death, and has survived a decade or more in outrageously difficult garb that hides everything she is...

Hmmm if you were a YMW, would you look forward to hooking up with a muslim man?

What a depressing life. No wonder muslim males rape little boys and freak over pornography. No wonder muslims rape young infidel women in Scandinavian countries as a "rite of passage."

Sick society, sick culture, and sick psuedo-religious murder-cult.

Andrew Scotia said...

There are appropriate batteries of tests for ADHD. They are administered by a trained psychologist and take upward of two days. There are several types of ADHD and there are ranges of severities for each type. Treatment can be any of several drugs and their efficacy as well as side effects depend on individual factors. ADHD is what as known as a "global" syndrome and effect almost all facets of a persons life.

The best treatment is "cognitive" therapy, a form of behavioral therapy and is similar to the more "forceful" methods used in families in the past since it is learned "self control".

ADHD is one of a set of persistent and identifiable brain syndromes and can be observed in action during MRI brain scans. ADHD brains are just "wired" differently. You do not "catch it" or have it induced by outside factors.

Because of its' persistence and the fact that it is hereditary syndrome there may be evolutionary factors that have preserved it.

It is both a curse and a blessing. Some people with ADHD have the ability for extraordinary, sustained focus at times. They can work in environments in which there is significant "noise", many streams of stimulation. Most people with ADHD have high degrees of situational awareness and heightened ability to sense movement in peripheral vision. Many people with ADHD have almost incredible, unconscious reaction times. The classic ADHD movie scene is where Robert Redford's character, Sundance, tries to show he is a gunman by standing and firing offhand at a stationary target, badly. He then turns draws, and keeps a can in the air with all six shots.

The joke in ADHD circles is that people without ADHD are dull "farmers" while those with ADHD are the hunters with secondary specialties as warriors. We're the genetic Sheepdogs that Bill Whittle describes.

I have ADHD, my father had ADHD, my youngest son has ADHD. A researcher in childhood development in my family has traced it back in my paternal line to at least 1830 and farther in other relatives.

If there are "horses for courses" ADHD is just kind of like being a Quarter Horse. Trained with persistence, awareness, a firm but gentle hand even a Quarter Horse stallion can be ridden with a Hackamore. In traditional families the odd kid out was usually recognized for his qualities and not stomped into a mold with everything hanging over cut off. I'm lucky since my family had a lot of experience in dealing with it over the generations.

We're the kids who can do good homework with the music blaring. We write computer code for hours and hours, catch the sizzling shoulder high line drive while standing on the baseline by just sticking out our mitts. And maybe muff the throw to first to catch the runner with a lead because we haven't a clue how we just did that. We never look at the rim in basketball and we can't understand why the clear guy in the corner wasn't expecting the pass; is he asleep?

We're the kid known as Motor Mouth who has a lot of trouble hunting from a stand or a blind but who can sometimes stalk a deer to within rock throwing range, dead silent taking half an hour to go fifty yards. On a jungle patrol, we're the guy you really want on point. We can be pains in the ass until you really need our skills.

Dymphna said...

Gosh, you guys really took the ball and ran with it..

Mussolini: you're right. Like most cultural "systems" this "only-men-are-full-human-beings" continues to generate consequences for everyone, including the poor slobs who are the only purported grown-ups. What am inhumane burden that is!

Papa Ray: The co-dependency issue is still around, it's just not news anymore. The paradigm it described is most useful for those who are raised in alcoholic families and find themselves fitting the described patterns. Once you've established that, then you work with it for awhile and it usually evolves into something more universal. But it's still a great starting point and lots of Ala-Non groups use it as a way to stop their part of the alcoholic's drama. I believe the Hazelden institute (group?) in the midwest still uses that for its work with families. I don't think labeling the behaviors found in such families is over-hype and they certainly do discuss the abuse that occurs when alcohol renders our inhibitive functions useless. There aren't many alcoholics in my family tree...only because most of them have fallen off the branches and are passed out, lying next to the trunk of that illustrious oak.

Chris: I, too, found the 100% hard to believe. THat's why I tried to talk to the guy later. He did say the daycare situations he was investigating were populated almost solely by single-parent children whose caretakers most often had substance abuse problems. But I never got more info because he'd fled the scene right after his speech to get to the airport. We social workers, slower to leave because we were discussing the keynote address as it pertained to our casework, hung around too long and ended up "stranded" for two days. As it happened, the conference was at Wintergreen, a local ski resort, and the management kindly gave us low rates because of the emergency...I know the man's first name was Douglas, but I've forgotten his last name. Would love to talk to him...as for your mother's 25 percent statistic, I think it's low if you take into account abuse of any kind in the course of a woman's life. I worked in a woman's shelter for many years and can tell you that many women came thru the door shame-faced: they hadn't realized for quite some time that what they wre experiencing was abuse. Why do you think that might be? I think 25% is low, way low. And I think boy abuse is so under-reported that we'll never know. Our system is as dysfunctional as it is not because of the abuse but because of the conditions which permit and encourage it. Just try following a few women thru the "justice" system. It might change your mind about your mother's ideas...sounds like "take-a-son-to-work-day" might be a good idea...I'm not making fun, I'm trying to tell you this is far more prevalent than you know. And guess what: your male friends are not gonna tell you. It's too shameful. I've also conunseled battered men. Talk about humiliation and shame...

Phil: Islam spreads because people without opportunity or hope are desperate for security and if it provides nothing else, attempting to abide by the strictures of a religion which only demands behavior can give a much needed sense of security. Your story is fascinating...and explains the high traffic in kidnapped little boys and girls that are shuffled through the Saudi kingdom...

Airforcewife: Yes. And more parents are willing to sacrifice for home-schooling for just that reason. We did with The Boy until sixth grade. After that, he went to a Friend's school that was elitist and condescending. Great teachers, though. After middle school, which was exceptional, I took one look at their humanities curriculum and went elsewhere...high school literature there didn't have one dead white male in the reading list. Not one...but I'm not against medication so much as I am against the environments which produce the conditions in which ADHD arise -- some of which you aptly describe. Most school PE was laughable but dropping it entirely was worse. I wish I'd had meds when I was a kid; finding adderall as an adult has changed my life...all those years I beat myself up because I couldn't keep track of my life. What a waste.

Andrew Scotia: As usual, I believe at least half of what you say! There can be a predisposition to this disorder (and it *is* a disorder, despite your gloss of the upside). It "runs" in my family, too, but I can trace it back to some unfortunate circumstances several generations ago that served to set in motion some very dysphoric, dysfunctional experiences for all involved. I have a cousin who says (and he's absolutely right) that he could've been governor of Florida had it not been for his ADD. He's brilliant, accomplished, and sometimes just drops the ball when the channels keep changing in his head. Another was grateful to adopt so she'd never have to worry about passing on the "scattered mind" genes to her kids--she was right; neither of the children is ADD. My brother, another brilliant one, with an IQ in the 150's, is an excellent croupier because he can follow the action with exquisite attention. But otherwise, he's quite limited, genius IQ and all. Casino workers do well because they work two hours on with a break, since they have to have exquisite attention.

In the not-too-distant future we'll be able to really alter the electro-chemical cascade that results in the brain changes that manifest themselves in ADHD behavior. Meanwhile, for every brilliant person you describe, I can show you little kids (mostly boys) who are literally climbing the walls and curtains, who cannot sit to hear a book read or focus long enough to learn to read themselves. Want to see if a little kid is ADD? Here's a nice, simple, cheap test: take a three foot whirling dervish who doesn't talk a lot but sounds often like a buzzing bee. Make sure you find one who's never done the story-book routine and whose vocabulary seems limited to loud noises. Give him a nice big cup of coffee -- with milk and sugar to make it palatable -- and wait ten minutes. The changeling you see will sit with you and not only pay attention to the story but will use words in asking his questions that you hadn't a clue were in his language kit. It's amazing...only problem is, the tolerance to caffeine is so well-established that in a few days he'll be up to lots and lots of it to get the same effect....meanwhile, notice the little girl in the corner, the one gazing vacantly out the window? She's not ADHD and never will be, but she may well be ADD. Girls are notoriously under-diagnosed because they don't cause any trouble. Give her some coffee and watch her get involved until it wears off...

BTW, I did the coffee experiment with a relative's child. Grandma cried when she finally got the chance to sit and read a book with her Energizer bunny...

moderationist said...

Our schools have turned into a virtual ball-worshipping sports cult, the glorification of a few annointed, and the marginalization of the rest.

Andrew Scotia said...

Yeah, but D, you never say which half.

There is virtually no upside to ADHD or ADD in our current society. I was pointing out that in cases where the genetic link exists, and in my family it does, it may have been functional in the past. We do have some characteristics that are handy in some situations. I'm not glossing or denying that it is a disorder. There have been situations in which I've been able to make it work for me but they certainly aren't "life global".

I see the curtain climbers and the quiet girls all the time in the outreach work we do. I hate the term "differently abled" but when I run across a kid with ADD or ADHD, I usually also find and "outcast" kid with real self image problems. So I talk up the hunter/farmer; and believe me it helps in the initial stages. failure is a large component in the life of all ADHD/ADD people.

I got lucky in the parent lottery in being born into a family with generations of experience in handling and raising kids with the disorder, even the quiet girls and the resources to handle the situation.

I am at a loss to identify ...unfortunate circumstances several generations ago that served to set in motion some very dysphoric, dysfunctional experiences but I will grant that situational factors may be at work since I certainly am not an expert. And, I realize that the circumlocution is necessary for privacy. I do have a "clipping/research service" that I set up for our local group and I intend to take a look at this.

Right now, I'm pursuing any genetic markers by collecting cheek swabs from everybody in the family worldwide. We also have a unique situation in my family that the genological research uncovered. A maternal line that diverged about six generations ago. My children's mother and I share a common ancestor. And, an active DNA project that has been going on in those two lines for about five years. Right now maternal DNA is the only good way to go but that could change.

Andrew Scotia said...

This is in a rush, since I have a plane to catch in a couple of hours.

My attentional channel also changes as the constant need for stimulation takes over. Many years ago I worked with a therapist who was smart enough to see what was happening and practical enough to understand that this wasn't something to be described but that required a solution, we were able to identify the factors that trigged the loss of focus and eventually arrived at a set of techniques that help keep me engaged or get me back on task. They're pretty messy but they work fairly well.

I never watched much TV as a kid and we did not allow our children to watch much of it either. I agree with you about the discordant, jumpy aspects but I think the jury is still out on the "neural pathways" argument.

Abuse, in all its' manifold aspects may be a factor in social disruption but I have trouble with it as a causative factor in ADHD/ADD. Again, it has been a few years since I went through the in service training with our local child abuse group. In this case, I would have to see data going beyond the simple correlation/causation model.

Going back over your original post yet again I see the jump you're making to the societal level. It is interesting but very tenuous. I think that is better to extend the failed state metaphor to failed cultures and the current iteration of Islamic culture certainly demonstrates that it has failed and is failing. I think that If, Then formulations run the risk of being very difficult to prove true or false in the long run.

The problem, as I see it, is a cultural norm that says the "objectifying" of another person using disproportionate power relationships is OK. The way we solved that problem in Western Culture was by setting up norms and standards and then punishing transgressors. Hanging the transgressors lifeless body at the cross roads to decay sends a powerful message.

Short of exterminating large portions of a transgressing population, which certainly "encourages the others" I see no solution in the short run. I am unwilling to go any further along this line of reasoning at this point in time.

I am less concerned about what they do to each other than I am about having them do to us. Us being not them.

Camerinus said...

As a former teacher, I can guarantee that ADD(as it was called then) was the most overhyped cause of poor parenting skills. Addicting children to Ritalin and psychotherapy caused more damage than any thing else. It seems that every inappropriate behavior now has a psychological root that can be cured with mind altering drugs. What happened to parent taking responsibility for their children's behavior?

American Crusader said...

I also taught school and couldn't agree more with camerinus. Bad behavior..somethings wrong with the kid...prescribe drugs. I also remember it as Attention Deficit Disorder. Now throw in hyperactivity and compulsive behavior and you pretty much cover the entire spectrum.
By the way..how is you're recovery going?
Merry Christmas! or Festivus or Hanukkah or anything else except Happy Holidays.

Dymphna said...


Parents don't parent in a vacuum. This culture, and many others, does not value parenting enough to even give people the rudiments of child development education. They get more way more drivers' ed hours than they ever do people ed.

A person can only pass on what he/she knows and if they do so in a culture which waits to blame them for their child's behavior, then of course they will distance themselves from that.

The insane "zero tolerance" education bureaucracy cannot exempt itself from the dynamic of out-of-control kids. And I don't mean individual teachers. I mean teachers who get no back-up, no help, and way too much pedagogical theory/certification that has little bearing on what they do every day.

There has been one improvement: now it is the parents' fault. The blame used to fall solely on good ol' mom.

Our culture is not kind to children but it is not nearly so oppressive as the family/societal make-up of the Middle East.

Meanwhile, I agree with Shrinkwrapped: the increase in ADHD is largely do to over-stimulation of children at an age when they cannot process it. This overstimulation is not due to Big Pharma or doctors or other evil entities. It is due to the way we live our lives, make our commitments, and whether or not we honor them. It is due to our filters.

I know a little boy who told his teacher he felt sad. He was sent to the guidance counselor who questioned him as to whether there were guns in his home. He said there were, that his daddy went hunting. From that day forward,upon his arrival at school he was met by the principal and the boy and his belongings were searched for weapons. His "help" consisted of daily searches, an hour a week with a guidance counselor, and pressure on his father to get rid of his hunting equipment, including his bow and arrows --though hunting was a beloved pasttime of the boy and his father and it put meat on the table.

...now in this scenario, who inflicted over-stimulation on the child? Legally? The parents were too poor and too intimidated to fight the daily invasion of their son...though it cost them much suffering and many tears for their son's ordeal.

American Crusader said...

You're absolutely correct that parenting doesn't work in a vacuum, but parents have the greatest responsibility for raising their children. Too many parents leave the school as the primary source for their children's upbringing. I've had students whose parents never once returned phone call or come to a PTA conference. Undoubtedly having both parents in the workforce has contributed but that doesn't mean that the easy solution (prescribing medicine for behavior management)is the correct one. Parents need to work with the schools in assessing the needs of their children.

Dymphna said...

American Crusader--

I don't think it's that simple. "Parents working with the schools," I mean. There are some school districts that can and do get court orders for children to be put on meds in order to be allowed in the classroom.
IOW, for every anecdote a teacher can present, a parent can counter with one of his own.

There are some parents who have gone to jail because their out-of-control children remained truant and defiant. When I was doing foster care, the kids I was removing at the judges' orders were being removed for the protection of the parents. One girl had beaten her father with a baseball trophy. She ran away from the foster home (I don't blame her there) and -- as a white girl -- lived in Bedford-Stuyvesant for over a year. She was one tough case, but her parents, inept as they were, really loved her. As a foster worker, I was federally mandated to do "home visits" with children on my caseload. I refused to fly to NYC and take a cab to Bedford Sty just to fulfill a stupid law. Got threatened with contempt of court but they didn't pay me enough to go there. Jail and few books sounded good in comparison. Eventually she came home with a diamond stud in the gum near her front tooth...first time I ever saw body work. Ugh.

The school system has become unmanageable; being a parent caught in its maw has few rewards and lots of risks.

The boy I mentioned before had parents who were quite involved in the school but it didn't save their son from being violated on a daily basis by a stupid fear of liability that made the kid a victim of lawyers' advice.

When the control of the schools really and actually returns to the localities and is removed completely from Washington's purview, then parents will be back. Until then, the government and the school own the kid and the parents have absolutely no say if the whim of the system so decides. Governmental interference on all levels has removed the moral authority of parents. When it is returned, parents will return.

Those who can, like AirForce wife, just opt out in order to protect their children. Wresting that "privilege" back from the state was a real battle for the pioneers. Often, it still is, if particular systems have an animus toward homeschoolers. The smart ones are inviting the homeschool parents in -- they get fed money for involving them.

ADHD has many complex causes but I return to the original thesis: overstimulation of a young organism (perhaps by a parent, perhaps by the environment, perhaps by the vicissitudes of life)can set in motion the train of electochemical cascades that begin the process that manifests itslef in the behaviors of ADHD. Further, these super-stimulating experiences place the child in another zone beyond the realm of normal experience.

The subset of this hypothesis is that it's much worse in Muslim cultures, but for different reasons.