Thursday, January 15, 2009

Law Can Protect Your Child

The year 2009 has begun with greater emphasis on bridging the serious gaps in segments of importance.

Take Obama's latest propositions in changing the face of education in the US where, there are 110,000 expulsions and 3 million suspensions that are known to happen each year. In India, we definitely have little access to these actual numbers but we do know that teachers hitting out at children is almost an accepted form of punishment to correct the behaviors of specific challenging kids. What parents dont realise is that they can take recourse to legal action in these situations.

Coming back to the US education scenario, an interesting approach has been formulated. It's called as collaborative problem solving. This was conceptualised by Dr. Ross Greene, who works at Harvard Medical School's psychiatry deparment. What it means is that behavioral challenges such as lack of flexibility or basic cognitive skills are perceived as developmental delays. So, this principle reiterates that the children shouldnt be punished simply because they are unable to understand and adapt to the demands of the school that placed on their tender shoulders.

Those who have seen Taare Zameen Par, the Bollywood flick, which was a bold and sincere attempt to address the same concept. Countless movie goers appreciated the suffering of the child protagonist, Ishaan, who embodies a classic case of Ross Greene's principle on developmental delays.

But here are some questions that continue to trouble parents:

1. What happens when a school refuses to use diligence and reinforces a system of punishment on a child who is suffering from similar developmental delays?

2. Will lawyers be able to take a proactive approach in initiating preliminary discussions with school authorities in representing these issues relating to a child's educational rights?

To answer question one at a micro level, it is important for parents to assess the situation correctly. Where it does seem apparent that a child is being unduly tormented by the punishment system, it calls for an immediate discussion with school authorities. If that fails to bring out measurable outcomes, we know exactly what comes next. Yes, the law steps in.

That, my dear friends, is just the beginning.

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