06 June 2009

What Do You Make of This??

Patrick will be going to the high school in August. Received in the mail yesterday:

Dear Parent/Guardian,

As you know (name of city/school district) has long held the belief that the health and wellbeing of our students is of the utmost importance. The Student Assistance Program (SAP) has been designed and implemented to support this very initiative. The SAP is partnering with parents, students, School Resources Officers (police employed at the public school) and social workers. The mission of the SAP is to empower students, parents, school personnel, and the community to utilize resources to encourage and support student wellness. Anyone can recommend and individual to the program, if a change is noticed in a student's academic performance, attendance, appearance, or attitude and/or behavior.

A request for mcan be obtained from the Resources Section of the high school guidance website (website URL here), at the high school guidance office or through (email). We ask that you assist us in our endeavors and appreciate your support. If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to contact the team via email.

The SAP Team

A quick perusal of the websites linked to the initial URL reveals the following:

You just write the kid's name in and check off the "area" you're concerned about to the SAP team. The team (officers, nurses, social workers, teachers, you name it) convenes in a secret tribunal and pronounces whether there is enough evidence to "gather data." Then they "gather data" and meet again. A behaviour checklist is used. "Rigid obedience" to rules or "defiant behavior" can be checked off as problems. "Anxiousness" or "inattentiveness" can be checked off as problems, as can "preoccupation" with sex. We all know that "preoccupation" with sexual matters is quite inappropriate developmentally for teenagers, especially boys. Boys are also NOT prone to inattentiveness, forgetfulness, academic slumps or other changes in behaviour during the teen years, right?

On the one hand, I'm not really concerned. We live in a relatively conservative area, and we're hardly the only Christians on the block by a long shot. And there are enough really serious cases of "my golly I see her buttcheeks are hanging out of her shorts!" to deal with before they get to my kid wearing his "one way to heaven" or symphonic orchestra tee and worrying about the occasional hole in the jeans. There are enough kids who have genuine drug and behaviour problems to go around that I shouldn't worry.

But I'm freaked.

D has forbidden my writing back any sort of snarky letter for the next few days or so. But I'm so upset! (Ok, maybe not the best time to write a letter.) Anonymous reporting of "problem" children? Referral to community agencies? Who the hell do these people think they are? I'm freaked. Maybe I shouldn't be, but I'm freaked.

What are your thoughts??


  1. Interesting (what I say when I'm not quite sure what I think about something);)

    It sounds like maybe they (possibly) are looking for kids with issues, but what exactly is their criteria for that? And the idea that someone could turn my child's name in on a "whim" is definitely a little freaky.

  2. I'm guessing the school thought it was a way to thwart school shootings ("defiant behavior") and keep an eye out for victims of sexual abuse ("preoccupation"). The problem, of course, is that a kid being abused might be "inattentive" (or not), not unlike non-abused students. With school shootings, for example, there tends to be a pattern of social isolation and defiance in the shooter, and in the instances where a shooting was averted, it was because a fellow student spoke up about, say, Johnny's strong preoccupation with social cliques and firearms. I assume the school didn't want to alarm anyone by saying "this is the checklist for future school shooters," so they widened the scope to all-over wellness.

    It's a good thing your son didn't make the other day's "I'm so hungry, I never eat enough" comments in school :)

  3. I'm a bit freaked out by it too! It sounds way too big brotherish to me, and what's up with this secret tribunal??? Yeah, I am thinking there is something really wrong with this!

  4. I don't think I've heard of that before, but I wouldn't fill it out if my kids did bring it home. There are other kids I would fill it out for though.

  5. Totally wrong and another fear mongering knee jerk reaction to the one in gazzilioneth (Yes, that is a number) child that does actually have issues.

    Gawd, with that criteria,95% of boys have issues that need to be addressed. Ooo,a feminist agenda perhaps?

  6. Welcome to the nanny state . . .

  7. Freaked! Yeah,..me too.

    Wow, talk about educational standards..this is odd. I'd be reconsidering that public school.

    I guess the hysteria over Columbine type shootings has spread far and wide. ..

  8. I'm glad I'm not the only one thinking this letter is a bit odd!!

    I wish I *could* reconsider that public school, Betty!

    Patrick is a sophomore entering the high school (they divide the buildings/ages strangely here) and he wants to continue. He actually said he was too lazy to think of his own educational plan and wants the government to decide what he will learn and spoon-feed it to him slowly.

    I can only think he's trying to antagonize me with that comment.

  9. I would like to think that the school meant well, but having such "problems" filed through e-communication? That's not on! It can certainly backfire! These matters should not be handled by e-mail or any other kind of mail. We have had letters of a horse unit concerning the well being of our horses after appararently being tipped off by ??? Such letters caused anger and FRUSTRATION galore! The matter was only resolved when the horse unit people and we sat around the table, discussed the issues and cleared misunderstanding e.g. that the horses had had no water because they had just moved to a new pasture and it was only 8:00 and the grooms were still busy getting everything ready!!!

  10. A beautiful example of people who are trying to help children--who doesn't want to help children?--but opening up the door to huge problems. Hopefully those problems don't surface, but this is the perpetual issue: We create more problems by just trying to "help" and not thinking everything through. ...the problem is, we can't possibly think everything through, so how do we help people?

    Ah, the dilemma of social ills.


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  12. Sounds like anyone can just make things up about your kids or take things out of context. I would't like a system like that.


Non-troll comments always welcome! :)