Letter: Most children's behavioral issues stem from trauma
I am writing in response to Darlajean Harlow’s letter to the editor on May 24th expressing that parents should be held accountable for their children’s behavior.
I do not know any specific details about the children who harmed the staff or property at Fargo Public Schools. However, I do know that nine times out of 10 when we see behavior issues that it is likely the result of trauma that the child has experienced and their behavior is a manifestation of that trauma. It is sadly true that children who have been neglected and abused by their parents or caregiver will often times have extreme behaviors as a result of that abuse. Some of these children still live with their biological parents and some of these children live with foster and/or adoptive parents.
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As a foster parent myself I can tell you with confidence that these behaviors are not encouraged or condoned within the home. In fact, foster parents, social workers, and many school professionals devote their life to loving these kids through their trauma and trying to find constructive parenting techniques to minimize the behavior. A blanketed statement about holding parents responsible for their children’s behavior lacks a complete understanding and merely focuses on the behavior when instead the focus should be on the child. What happened to that child? How can we love them best? How can we hold the child accountable for their actions, but still breathe into them that they are wanted and loved?
It is exhausting to work with children who have behavior issues. Behind almost every single child who acts out is a parent who is doing their very best to parent that child. I am not claiming that there shouldn’t be accountability for the harm caused to the staff and property at the school. There should be. Instead of blaming the parent I would encourage the public to try to consider that there might be more to these types of situations than what meets the eye. Instead of playing the blame game let’s try first to view the situation with a lens of compassion not only for the damage to the school and harm caused to the staff, but also for what that child might be going through. There is a quote from Annette Breaux that rings very true to this situation, "Nine times out of 10, the story behind the misbehavior won't make you angry; it will break your heart."