Mental Health, Spectrums, Guns, Copernicus and other normal stuff

I might get my arse metaphorically kicked for this post. But here goes nothing.

A few weeks ago I read a post here where Twindaddy speaks on that awful shooting in Santa Barbara and other matters arising from it. When I read it a few light bulbs went off in my head but nothing I could quite put my finger on exactly. I just knew that certain words were jumping out at me and that I had a sense of something. Since then I’ve been thinking – dangerous pastime – and I’ve read a number of other things and heard some more that make me want to put the ideas together into some sort of coherent thought. I’ll let you be the judge of that. I know what I mean.

First off, I’ve mentioned in the past that I’m a teacher. Kids who come under my radar are aged 3 to 12. I’ve been doing this job now for over thirty years. And I’ve seen changes not only in the way children are taught but in the children themselves. In the past, I would occasionally come across a child with behaviour issues. It might not even have been in my own class but there were always at least a few in any school who were known to all the staff as ‘problem children’.

Nowadays, only having one or two in a class would be a miracle. And I’m talking from the earliest classes here. The youngest age group. Behaviour problems that beg to be addressed and solutions to be found. Not for the teacher’s sake although, god knows, it’s a damn sight easier to teach children who are prepared to be taught than to root out the reasons why so many children demonstrate disturbed behaviour.

No, the reason the problems need addressing is because the behaviour of these children impacts negatively on the learning environment and on the other children present in the class. Not to mention the fact that the children who have the problems are among some of the most unhappy little people you may ever come across. Their unhappiness though impacts on society as a whole. Now, in the present time. And later, when problematic becomes unmanaged and unmanageable. Later, when children are grown to adults and they carry with them the scars of a childhood that should never have been.

The job I’ve been doing the last nine years or so is called Area Cover. I go to many different schools as and when required, taking whatever class the headteacher needs me to cover. Sometimes it’s for a year, sometimes for half a day. Mostly it’s for a number of weeks or months at a time. I love it. Prior to doing Area Cover I was in the same school all the time and I got fed up with school politics and the same faces. Also, I had a bad bout of depression around that time and resigned from teaching. Just like that.

One of the reasons I probably was so depressed was that I had a child in my class that year who was a real problem. Not to me. I loved him. But his life was a Dickensian novel. His mother was a prostitute at home to feed her drug habit, his father was in prison and he was left responsible for a two year old child. He begged for food around doors in his neighbourhood – quite a tough one – and came to school late every day. He got into fights with the other children, he used language that they were mostly scandalised at and he had a whole lot  more to worry about than whether he had his homework with him. He was too busy dealing with life in its most raw form.

At a meeting with his social worker and the head teacher I sat, waiting for his guardian – an aunt who had deigned to accommodate him under the stairs, a la Harry Potter – to make an appearance. She didn’t. Meanwhile, I was fretting that my own children, being minded by my mum, would be wondering where I was and why I wasn’t home yet. The social worker talked of this and that and how the problem would continue to grow as we saw more children being born to drug addicts and the children themselves going on to become parents and not knowing how to parent. I could feel my heart sinking inside like a stone and I just wanted to get home to my own kids to hold them and hug them and let them know that they were loved.

The meeting was abandoned and I drove home the three or four miles in my minibus – our then family vehicle to accommodate the five children I already had and the sixth I was expecting.

I cried all the way home, picked up my own kids, and then spoke to my husband that night about the boy in my class and how I just wanted to bring him home. This was not an option but I couldn’t shake the feeling that this child would be ok if only he had love and normality.

I went off on maternity leave shortly afterwards and never returned. Every time I thought of going back I thought of this boy who had eventually been taken into care, probably with no likelihood of fostering or adoption. His problems would have made him unwanted by many. And he had done nothing to deserve it. Except be born. His hand had been dealt and it was shit.

That was around twelve years ago. Every class then had a kid with some problem or other although his was by far and away the worst, at that time, that I’d ever come across.

Now, by nature of the job I do, I see cases like his to different degrees. I’m in and out of ‘good areas’ and ‘bad areas’ but the problems occur right across the spectrum.

Which kind of brings me to one of the words that Twindaddy used in his post. Asperger’s.

Given that I teach in so many schools and so many classes I do, naturally, encounter children with a range of difficulties. Asperger’s is just one form of autism on the Autistic Spectrum. And I still require help in managing the many different aspects of autism that I may encounter. Not being an expert on it means that I look to the experts for help in doing the best I can to aid learning for children whose needs are different than the norm. This year, for the first time, I’ve also worked with children with mental impairment and/or physical disabilities. The first time left me shell-shocked and in need of wine at the end of the day.

Then I began to enjoy it in a way I hadn’t expected. The challenge of reaching children whose difficulties were more than the average expected proved exciting in a way I wouldn’t have believed. I accidentally one day had a child in stitches laughing and tried to remember what I’d said that had communicated itself to her when usually she sat in her wheelchair unable to speak but obviously taking in more than I’d given her credit for. Then I realised I hadn’t said anything special, just spoken to her as I’d speak to any of the other children I usually teach. I’d made some remark that she’d found funny and as soon as I realised the range of her understanding it became a challenge with me to see if I could get her and a few others laughing. Maybe that’s not my job. But, faced with children who appear to be incapable of normal interaction and discovering that their abilities and difficulties varied hugely all in one class, inspired for me a new way to work with them than my initial reaction had suggested. My perceptions were wrong.

What I do know is that while they had learning difficulties this in no way reflected the level of violence they were capable of. Most of them were pussy cats. One or two certainly could kick off and would invariably turn over a chair or two before taking themselves off to a conveniently padded room that allowed them to vent their anger/frustrations in safety.

We don’t have padded rooms as a matter of course attached to classrooms. That’s only in those units where the risk is deemed sufficient to protect the child from themselves.

But. And this is a big but. In mainstream classes I have wished, for the sake of the children concerned, that there were such rooms. There are children deemed to be normal whose behaviours are violent and aggressive and whose only apparent recourse is venting in action and voice. And then tears.

These are not happy children. These are not ‘normal’ children because their childhoods are not normal. In almost every case there are facts that become apparent that explain the reasons for their behaviour. And, behind every one, there is at least one adult whose inability to parent effectively, for whatever reasons,  is a major factor in their child’s behaviour and unhappiness.

And if you’re unhappy in childhood what chance do you have for a normal adulthood, free of mental torment?

Which kind of brings me to Rene’s post Monkeys and Morality from Hank Green, one half of the brother team who, through their online vlogs, seek to educate a world to more than video games and shallow thought. Their bite-sized education should be compulsory for many if not all parents and adults who seek to understand how we as humans tick. This particular video addresses significant areas in child development. This is the stuff I studied at college. I have no idea whether it is still taught to teachers although I have my doubts based on certain information I’m gathering around education, how it’s taught and what training is given to future educators. Whole other post. And a rather worrying one.

Children are not small adults. That’s the main thing. Their normal development is dependent on kind touch and an authoritative but understanding parenting style that guides but explains. It is dependent on interaction from parents/carers that expresses concern and love in a way that we think everyone knows but not all practise.

The results of non-contact as outlined in the video and conducted as an experiment on monkeys a fair number of years ago reflects the many negative aspects of absence of parental contact and care-giving. It is so worth a watch. (11.38 mins worth)

The unfortunate infant monkey in the experiment manifested self-abusive behaviours and later went on to become incapable of parenting when allowed to breed. It had no idea what to do. How could it? Imagine generations of the same scenario.

Imagine generations of the same scenario among humans. Humans with their supposedly greater capacity to reason and communicate. We don’t have to imagine. It is happening now. Where we live. Everywhere. There are children being born to parents whose neglect of love in a meaningful way is and has been impacting on the capabilities subsequent generations have to show love. Both for themselves and for others.

I’d say that affects mental health. It doesn’t perhaps cover all range of mental illnesses and the reasons for them. But it sure goes some way to understanding why so many suffer in ways that cannot be explained or diagnosed through medical knowledge and why so many have need of psychiatric assistance to unravel the damage often done in the earliest formative years.

So are any of us normal?

I’m thinking of my own parents here. My father was a strict man. He had standards of behaviour he expected us to live by. But he was also very loving and explained the world to us in ways we could understand. My mother was more of a soft mark when it came to getting what we wanted but she was also no pushover and tempered giving with explanations of why certain things had to be, the practicalities of life. She opened up a world of questions for us and allowed free speech in a way that my dad sometimes overruled by virtue of his fatherhood.  The ‘because I said so’ school.

Between the two of them I guess there was a balance. But does that mean I’m normal? I have suffered from depression off and on since I was about twelve. I get angst ridden about the world, my world, my ability to cope with certain aspects of life. Then I come out of it.

I’ve called myself here an optimistic depressive. Then I came across a blog post, that I can’t remember where, put my phraseology into another light. So now I’m a flexible optimist. I do believe that most things turn out for the best and trust way too often when experience should have taught me otherwise. Maybe I’m just a bit thick in that department. But it’s who I am and I accept it. Just as I accept that there will be times when my flexible optimism takes a bit of a nose dive and leaves me wondering WTF?

I’m operating on a spectrum. A range of feelings and emotions and life-experiences that colour how I perceive and react to the good and bad stuff that happens to us all. So, sometimes I cope. Sometimes I don’t. Then I do again.

Since I started here just over a year ago I have come to realise, in a way that I might never otherwise have, that pretty much everybody appears to be operating on this spectrum of mental health. And I kind of think that’s normal. Maybe we should stop thinking of mental health as the presence or absence of an illness diagnosed or otherwise and perhaps perceive it as a spectrum we all operate on, sometimes verging on the extremes for one reason or another be it chemical or circumstantial but with each of us sliding along it dependent on our ability to cope with any given set of circumstances at any given time based on life experiences and the tools to cope with them.

Or would that be a Copernican idea too far?

And what the hell does all of this have to do with guns? Or the control of them?

You might be aware that here in the UK we don’t have the ‘right to bear arms’ either selectively interpreting the Second Amendment or otherwise. Our police aren’t armed either. Except in exceptional circumstances. I haven’t really weighed in on this in the past because I’ve thought that others might think, ‘Shut the fuck up. This has nothing to do with you.’ And maybe it hasn’t.

But an outside perspective, I’ve decided, can sometimes help. That’s my reasoning. And I’m sticking to it.

It seems every time there is an atrocity committed that a reason behind it has to be found. That a possible diagnosis of mental illness can excuse or explain why someone takes a gun and essentially executes innocents. But I think that’s a cop out. How many people do you know who have mental health issues and how many of those are likely to harm anyone in that way other than possibly themselves?

Of those I have taught and those I still do I could lay bets on who would likely be the perpetrator of such an act and the most likely candidates I can think of given their penchant for violence and aggression are those who live with that as their childhood. And even that doesn’t signify that they would. They’re much more likely to commit suicide too. Or go on to inflict the same rotten childhood on their own young in the absence of any better example or overriding desire. But, if I were to seek reasons why someone randomly opens fire I’d be looking at their childhood for answers. Who we become is formed essentially in the earliest of years. What scars we carry or otherwise remain until relieved in some way.

If screening for mental health issues were to become a factor in determining who should have the right to carry a gun then that would have to be extended to all those who have had a childhood of violence or neglect or control or laxity. That’s a lot of screening. And who knows who might slip through? Could be the police officer who rescues an abused or neglected child and whose own mental trigger determines whether that parent should live or die.

We are too complex as beings to determine these things based on some random testing. We are too complex as beings to be judged on mental stability based on others’ perceptions of what mental health and illness are. But, even monkeys know that love and nurture determine how we perceive the world around us. And that its absence muddies the colours of the spectrum of life from one end to the other.

Asperger’s when mentioned in TD’s post got me thinking about how so much of life is on a spectrum of one sort or another. Happiness/sadness. Pain/joy. Reality/unreality. Positivity/negativity. Knowledge/ignorance. Love/hate. Right/wrong. Evil/goodness. Innocence/guilt.  Everything in between is deemed normal. But we all shift on the spectrums. For good or bad. We cope sometimes. We don’t sometimes. Our perceptions change and reflect circumstances and mitigating factors.

Maybe, in any extreme, there will always be the potential for someone to snap and react in a totally shocking way. Whether by gun or knife or any other weapon. Arming a population with guns – and I would include police here – increases the risk of greater damage than would otherwise be the case. Who can possibly know the internal workings of any mind and whose hand might itch to avenge their own unhappiness? The child that snaps in class may have been sitting quite calmly five minutes earlier before erupting over apparently nothing. I don’t want an unhappy anyone armed for more than turning over a few chairs with no padded room available to let off steam.

I don’t know what’s normal and what’s not other than what we perceive in general terms but how many of us fit into the general?

I’m choosing to see normal as life operating on various spectrums, all interconnected, all having significance. It won’t cure mental illnesses where medical diagnosis says medicate. It won’t change children and adults who operate on the Autistic Spectrum when recognised. All it changes for me is my perception. That maybe there are many spectrums we don’t yet think of. For me, my own little Copernican Revolution. Something of a shift in my cosmos.

Arse now bent over for a kicking. I’m hoping I’ve been more lucid than I suspect I have but I did want to get this down.

I had been attempting to comment on another much more succinct post on the subject of gun control when I lost it all to my kindle. It was getting way too long-winded anyway. Much like this post. If you’ve reached the end here, thank you for reading all the way through. I don’t even know if I’ve answered all my own thoughts on this. I’ll probably mull away some more especially if feedback suggests I’m way off mark or there are other things I should have weighted more.

Anyway, thanks for reading. Not only this post but all the bits and pieces I write. And thanks too for all that you write that gives me food for thought. Even if those thoughts are scattered at times.

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44 thoughts on “Mental Health, Spectrums, Guns, Copernicus and other normal stuff”

  1. No kicking from here – an intelligent, relevant and superbly written post. I like the way you think. Peace . .

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  2. A lot to chew on here. I cannot find fault with what you have written, and like the phrase flexible optimist, I may steal it! I too have worked with students like the one s you have described over the last 27 years, it feels dehumanising sometimes. I don’t know how Americans would feel about you commenting on gun control, I suspect many, many people there are tired of what is happening and would like to see an end to it.

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    1. Thanks, Steve (?) for reading. It was a long post. I fully expect people not to read it! And there are so many different connections in it that quite possibly do impact one on the other or perhaps not as much as I believe. I’m interested in how we cultivate our perceptions on so many issues and how we deal with others once these become ingrained. Education holds the key to so much but it’s hard enough doing it without the additional problems wrought by family and social dilemmas. Family relationships are at the root of so much. So often we end up being caretakers or babysitters to these ailments. We need to address them if only so that as many as possible in each generation have the chance to make judgments based on knowledge and facts and not only emotional experiences, especially where those experiences have been negative. While we become social workers in school we’re not really doing the job we were trained to do with the time available to do it.
      I understand that some Americans may not thank me for weighing in on what doesn’t directly concern me but, given that WP is worldwide and opinions vary across that sphere, I think another perspective may do no harm. I’ve learned so much by reading other opinions and perspectives here on a wide range of subjects that interest me and some others I’d rather not have to deal with but feel pressing.
      Again, thank you so much for reading this lengthy post. And now this lengthy comment.x

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  3. Well said and insightful, as always, Anne-Marie. I’m a little brain dead at the mo’- too much time in the sun (I think my brain is fried)- but I will come back to this and comment properly (and respond to your email) once I recover from the cottage. I think you’ve said some very important things, here. xo

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    1. Welcome back from your r&r, Cole. Mine begins in a day and a half! Yay! Just hope we get enough sun to sizzle at least slightly. I hope you had a great time. Got lots of reading and cocktails in. 🙂
      Don’t frazzle yourself hurrying to respond – whenever you get the chance. x

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  4. Hi, My sister is a teacher. She teaches Autistic Children. Quite a challenging job but she does it well and loves what she does. I have a huge amount of respect for anyone in this profession who actually cares about the kids. So Thank you for that. As for all the rest on mental health and are any of us normal? Who knows. That I can not answer.

    As for Americans and their love of guns and the whole debate around mental health and guns: I am not American. But it is sad to see so many shootings and violence. America has a gun culture. It will be very difficult to change that. Screening for Mental Health could be a start to helping solve the problems in that country, perhaps lessen the violence in that country. Will it eradicate every shooting…..?

    Namibia (that’s where I live) has her own struggles with violence. You need license to get a gun here, but still women and children get slaughtered every day, mostly by a relative. You don’t need a gun to slaughter innocents. But I guess If you don’t have one you can’t slaughter that many so quickly.

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    1. It makes me happy to know that there are so many people working in areas of difficulty and doing it with heart. My experience with severe disability has been limited to this year apart from a couple of occasions years ago. It was a learning curve for me. And one I’m glad to have experienced.
      It’s kind of the definition of ‘normal’ I take issue with given that all of us operate on multiple levels of awareness and coping. I think we’re all normal in our own ‘crazy’ fashions. 😉
      I do know what you mean about violence. There has always been something of a knife culture here and some of the crimes committed using them are horrific. Only this weekend past there was another, local to me, where two people were left seriously injured. The person arrested could have done even more damage had he had a gun instead of a knife. It just worries me that so many people are capable of gaining possession of such a lethal weapon. Guns here are restricted to farmers, gamekeepers, hunters etc. That’s not to say that people can’t find ways of getting them from illegal sources. I think what strikes me as odd is that there are all these shootings in the US and nothing is apparently done. We had one here years ago, in 1996, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunblane_school_massacre and it shocked everyone to the core and caused immediate government action. I know that change in US policy might take years – if ever – but the families of the victims, to bring some measure of action to minimise the potential for these atrocities, is crying out to be heard.
      Thank you so much for reading such a lengthy post on subject matter than can be a real turn-off. I do hope we all find ways to curb the violence that never really disappears but could possibly be restricted if we have a mind to and the political will to ask for change where change is needed. In whatever fashion that may be.
      Many thanks also for your thoughtful comments.x
      One of the measures taken here has been amnesties for people to hand in any sort of weaponry that they want to relinquish without fear of prosecution for possession. There have been swords and crossbows and all sorts handed in. It begs what goes on in the minds of people to possess these things in the first place but at least the amnesties reduce some of the weaponry available.

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  5. Although I don’t think you and I quite see eye-to-eye on gun control, I am right there with you on the mental health piece. I worked with “at-risk” youth for 7 years prior to my current position as stay-at-home-mother. TERRIBLE things happened to and around these children which resulted in their “problem” behaviors. Sometimes I wanted nothing more than for the parents to just vanish. Though, that would have added a whole extra level of worries. Too often people look at poor parenting and all the other issues surrounding mental health and/or addictions as a personal issue when it is really a broader societal issue. Though I’ve been singing that song for years and it too often seems to fall on deaf ears.

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    1. I probably don’t know enough on the subject of what options are available for change within the gun laws or even whether it is desired by most or many. I just worry that so many have the potential to harm with them. And wonder why that is still an option. But I daresay American citizens will find their own answers to what we look at and can’t quite fathom.
      You’re absolutely spot on with crying into the wind on the subject of child protection and mental health. Perceptions have to change within society to address what is a common enough occurrence among so many re mental health. And child protection is everyone’s business. They are our future and we have hard times ahead if many of today’s children reach adulthood without their hurts being addressed effectively. The wheels move so slowly here at times and the law can make for an ass when it comes to helping the most at risk kids. I’ve seen parents being able to hang on to their kids when animals have been removed from owners for less abuse. Everything is more clear cut when animals are concerned and yet the effects on them can be lifelong. God knows the damage that abused/neglected children hold within for future venting.
      Thank you for reading and commenting so thoughtfully. It’s good to know that even while we may not agree on things we can still speak and express perceptions that may help each other in recognising and understanding our different points of view.x

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      1. I try not to get too hot-under-the-collar when it comes to the gun control issue. From my perspective, it is really a clash of cultures here: rural vs. urban. I grew up rurally and guns are tools. Guns are a part of your life experience and you learn to use and respect them from a very early age. Not so when it comes to the urban experience. I’m sure there is the exception and this doesn’t take into account the mental health piece, but it is a large part of the issue. Then, of course, we can go down the rabbit hole of personal protection against tyrannical government. But that is another subject for another day 😉 I’m glad to be able to speak about these things peaceably, as well. I lived in Ireland for a short while back in 2007 and was conflicted over the Gardi not being armed. I saw them in action a couple times and they were quite effective.

        It sounds to me like your legal system works about as well as ours. Even having worked in it, I find it difficult to know how to correct it. Really, it has to come from outside the system, and ideally, we would have no need for it. I used to tell people that my goal was to work myself out of a job.

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      2. I think that’s a very good point about the rural and urban areas and the possible needs that people may have to carry knives or guns in the course of their work. Even here that is the case. And that seems like common sense to me. Your mention of tyrannical governments had me thinking about ‘Terminator’ there and the gun stores built up for future use. That is a whole other worry right enough. And a sad reflection on our trust of government. But another time, as you say.
        Wouldn’t it just be grand if we could work ourselves out of some jobs? It’s up to us all I suppose to lead that way and keep an eye on what our governments are up to too. 😉

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  6. It is so difficult to condense what needs to be said, when there is so much to say – you have done a brilliant job and my heart went out to that little boy ..and as far as weighing in – it’s a free land we live in..isn’t it? ~weigh in all you bloody well please! Well written AM x

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    1. Thanks, Jen. Being concise is not one of my strengths. 😉 And, as you say, there were so many bits to be said! Poor J. never had a chance from the get-go. It was a terrible life for him and his sister and I only hope that they both found somewhere to be loved.x

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  7. thoroughly enjoyed your thoughtful reflections, despite being a gun enthusiast and lifetime charter member of the NRA – there is need for continuing flow and exchange of ideas and opinions about these matters and I deeply appreciate those with the qualities of expression that you bring to them

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    1. Thanks, Paul, both for commenting and reading. I can surely rattle on. I’m sure America will find a way to compromise and accommodate the different stances. It’s necessary obviously to keep dialogue open on the subject and bring reason to bear on what is one that can seem to cause volatile feelings and opinions. Like so many aspects of politics reason can become lost to emotion and feelings run so high that no sense is made of subjects that are desperate for remedy. I do sincerely hope that a compromise can be reached that serves the good of your country. Again many thanks for reading my lengthy thoughts.x

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    1. I never returned to the school so I don’t know what became of J. I’m not sure I would have wanted to. When I’ve heard of other children later who were at risk the results have often been as expected. Sadly so. I’m more likely to know about ones that I work with in the area I live. Not keeping tabs on them but stuff filters through. I pray he and his sister were saved from any more trauma. Thanks for reading this and for commenting. It was good of you to put the time into it.x

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  8. Anne-Marie, you take on a lot in this, and I had not enough time to read it at the first sitting. Even now, my daughter is hunting me down. I agree with you on most points. Guns in the hands of angry people leads to bad decision-making and irreparable harm. It’s sad.

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  9. Great piece wumun.
    I will address just a few things as I don’t want my response to be as long as your friggin’ post. 😉
    I have commented many times when old people on my senior bus (which I am not really a senior I will have noted!) that we have babies raising babies. I comment, sometimes, no, we are way past that: we have grandmother babies, who raised baby momma’s, who are now having babies. I hope that made sense. Basically we hare way past the two generational slip of children raising babies: we are into 3rd and 4th generations of this, depending on the environment and socioeconomic climate. So, when you are talking with a parent, or auntie, about this troubled child, they are probably just as troubled and unlearned as the child at issue. I have seen this a great deal when working with CASA here, in Las Vegas, Nevada, of the mothers of the teens I was in charge of being nothing more than larger teenagers themselves.
    As to gun control and I am not going to get on a soap box: The mental illness check is scary. How far can it go within Federal guidelines of Medical Confidentiality? And…where will it stop? Many of the shootings have noted the child/person showed signs of depression. Well Hell! I have shown signs and have taken medication for depression. I own a gun, but I am not about to go shooting in Wal-Mart or the dreaded senior bus (driver?). I do think the automatic weapons are not necessary, and as you pointed out, for either side. Too scary and too risky. This also brings up another question for the future: if there are mental health checks which will include depression, how many people will not seek treatment when they should, and commit violent acts because they were not treated? There is a conundrum for ya’.
    Final statement (promise): I was raised in shit ass conditions. I still, to this day at 50 years of age, do not know if my mum really loved me/us or just felt obligated to us. She let a lot of shit happen to me and never protected me. This is the main reason I have this blog: so she cannot read my inner thoughts I need to share without her being all hurt. I don’t want to hurt her, but I still don’t feel the love from her, and there will always be that wall wherein I remember as a child telling her things and her not responding appropriately. This happened way more than once, and the first person who writes back and tells me to just give it up to God, or forgive her unconditionally, will get kicked in the ass by my karma fairies. I have known many others my age and younger who have lived through extraordinary conditions and come out the other side successful. One happens to be visiting Europe right now, and I am so proud of her. I am not sure who I latched onto for help up out of the shit, or who my friend did, but we did, and we are degree carrying successful fulfilled individuals. I do KNOW much of this goes back to parenting, but we are at a point to where how can we blame the parent who never learned the proper parenting skills (wire monkey mom baby). I would have to think way longer on this issue, research hypothesis, and form some sort of idea for reform based on solid research.

    Peace & Love at ya,
    P.S. Thanks for the link to my blog video.

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    1. I’m dead chuffed you read this, Rene!
      And you make a lot of good points. I was just speaking with a colleague the other day about kids we remembered from our childhood who had gone on to do remarkable things in the face of extreme poverty and adversity.
      In fact, those we were recognising went above and beyond the call of duty in the roles they took on to give back so much and encourage others. Two in particular were budding footballers – not major league – but good enough to make a living from it in the minor teams. But what they gave back in effort and supporting youth was an amazing testament to what they had experienced and how they wanted to do more for others.
      Members of another few families I know from my childhood have had very mixed results – with some becoming successful businesswomen while other members of their family seemed to embrace their lot and sink.
      I deliberately qualified what I was saying above in my post with the phrase ‘in the absence of any better example or overriding desire’ because I know that for some their childhood doesn’t define the final result. That somehow they know they want different. Maybe they see it around them or they desire change so strongly. I don’t know all what the driving forces may be although I could take a fair few guesses. But even this response is going on at some again. And I don’t want you switching off!
      On the subject of young mothers – a family who used to live across the road from me grew up with what a lecturer once told me was probably ‘emotional abuse’, never really knowing if their parents loved them. The course I was attending was on abuse ( I had opted for an art course, incidentally!) and I got chatting to one of the lecturers about how this family were always bending over backwards to please and do for their parents while my mum complained from time to time about us that we weren’t pulling our weight.
      The lecturer’s interpretation of the fairly brief conversation was that we were sure of our parents’ love and basically took it for granted – which apparently is quite normal. Yikes! Meanwhile, this other family pursued love, trying to gain approval. It’s a bit simplified for such a brief conversation but I got what she was saying.
      All of the kids from that family married very young and are still doing a grand job of raising their kids and seem intent on doing it all differently. They love, guide, support. They’re a total credit to parenthood. Most of their kids are grown now and making their own lives.
      It does need so much more research as does the issue of violence in all our societies and how we can best address it. I do think it is weird to want to carry rifles and flaunt them in public to prove a point. There are arguable reasons for some people having need of guns but some sort of reasonable debate on their proliferation and the consequences of them in the wrong hands needs to be reflected on I think.
      That’s my tuppence worth on it for what it’s worth. I’d like to be able to walk the streets at night (NOT in that way!) and not worry about who might be carrying a knife they want to use. I imagine there are many who feel the same way about guns.
      And now I’ll really have pissed you off because my response is a mile long! 🙂
      No probs on Hank. I love him and John.x

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      1. Didn’t piss me off, I used the magnifier tool so I could read the whole thing without glasses. There is a lot of studies and further research going on about the raising of children, abuse issues, and social issues with regards to children in and out of the system. The older studies seem to hold more credence for me, and are much better written and have much better references. I find recent research is very lacking, and oft times I cannot match a reference given to the actual magazine or source. I don’t think there is the same standards for research as there used to be, so I often question what I read: is it for Psychology Today, USA Today, CNN, BBC, or an actual medical journal in which reference will be double checked before it is even published.

        Looked at Hugh pics today, and will put them up tomorrow.

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      2. lol, a magnifier would make it seem even longer! 🙂
        I’m with you on the research. There always seems to be studies ongoing for everything under the sun and each one contradicts the other. Common sense often is overlooked and I do wonder at times why it takes research to understand what sense very often makes self-evident.
        And I thought you had exhausted all your Hugh pics! Happy days! 🙂 x

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  10. Hey, aren’t you surprised I read the whole thing? It was a long f*&%$! At least it wasn’t poetry, of which I would have fallen asleep half way through. Love ya.

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  11. Wow! I go away to move house for five minutes and come back to this. Totally agree momus…AND…combined with the stress levels that we all work under in this world, I think we are creating a world of pain. Until the ‘system’ works on a basis of ‘sharing’ and not ‘greed’, it will just get worse. While ever both parents are working to make ends meet, you will always have a child excluded from that nurturing and love that is required.
    There is another experiment where plants are treated with either ‘love’, ‘hate’ or totally ‘ignored’. Obviously the plants that was ‘loved’ grew well, the plants that was ‘hated’, not so well. But the plants that was ‘ignored’ were either stunted, lacked any growth or died. What more can I say. We need that change.
    Well written momus, from the ‘coalface’, and to be ignored at our own peril. Namaste

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    1. I was just thinking about you last night, wondering how the move was going and if you’d unpacked all the boxes and discovered any more hidden gems. 😉
      The plant experiment sounds about right. Most kids would protect their parents even in the face of ill-treatment, any attention being better than none it seems. But to be ignored is surely one of the cruelest forms of punishment. I’ve seen it action with adults sending another to Coventary and went off my trolley at it. Kids do it too with each other. A nasty sort of ill-treatment to make another feel invisible and unimportant.
      I’ll drop you a line soon, see how you’re getting on. 🙂 Namaste, Mark.x

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  12. It is a great post, A-M. I read all the way from start to finish. I wrote long stuff, too, so I have no problem reading something long except if it doesn’t have much sense — yours does, a lot.

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      1. Very important topic of debate here in the U.S…
        I was kinda hoping that we were the only ones that were having this problem. I felt that, you as a teacher in Scotland, your personal and professional insight over these last 50 years, that people here might sit forward in their seats and thinl; “Huh, I didn’t know Europe was having the same problems with kids”
        Ignorance is bliss….and dangerous.

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      2. Oh gawd, I think it’s everywhere. From everything I’ve read and seen, from the kids I’ve worked with and those I know otherwise, social problems are growing. Not that they didn’t exist before but it’s like a new type of poverty. Not like when everyone seemed to be in the same boat, more or less, all those years ago but a widening divide and one that looks set to grow. There seem to be so many factors involved and nothing of worth being achieved to address the issue. It doesn’t help matters at the moment that our government are a shower of wankers. Sorry to say it but it’s true. They should have been giving out free condoms when this lot got in, I’m telling you. If we don’t get Scottish Independence in September, I’m emigrating. If anybody’ll have me at 53! You had to mention that, didn’t you?! lol!
        Ignorance is dangerous is for sure.x

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