Talk Back: Readers Respond, November 2002

December 16, 2002



Early Violence Prevention
Readers of our November article on the ACT' Adults and Children Together' Against Violence program agreed that when it comes to violence prevention, you can never start too early.


I teach a parenting class using the curriculum Mama, listen! Raising a Child Without Violence, by Ruth Beaglehole. It is an excellent interactive curriculum, which we use in Gallup New Mexico where alcohol and violence are such a huge issue. I would like information on where I may obtain the training for the ACT program. It sounds like something we could integrate here. Funding is always a problem here as in many areas. Any suggestions for grants or foundation help with this would be helpful.

I am the director of Parents As Teachers in the health clinic here in Gallup. We have a great program that is in danger of being shut down because did not get our DOE grant renewed. Any suggestions?

Mary Johnson, Parents As Teachers, Gallup, New Mexico


Thanks so much for your article. I am an instructor for the ACT program here in NJ. I am the only Spanish-speaking instructor and I am trying hard to spread the word among Hispanic families in Morris County. I know that I am going to take this program to my country Colombia that really needs this beautiful and extraordinary program.


Mr. Alberto Olarte, Senior Bilingual Clinician, Saint Clare's Behavioral Health



The Art of Practice
Does practice make perfect? In a recent article, teaching expert Dorothy Rich, PhD, explored this age-old notion. Here's what readers had to say:


I couldn't agree more with the article on "practice makes perfect." As a former school teacher and a program manager for a youth development project, I have had first hand experience of the kind of coaching it takes to help youth succeed. Every assignment we give children should have meaning and value. It can be a real challenge to come up with something other than a "ditto." I especially appreciate your comment about how tutors/family support workers need training and need to be PAID. Paid staff stick around and utilize the training you've given them.

If it's okay with you, I'd like to share this article with others in the education field.

Thank you,
Casey McCormick, Placer Community Challenge to Prevent Teen Pregnancy




I read the article with great interest, and I agree completely with the idea of a learning coach, the importance of parental involvement in the process, and the idea that helping the child to learn problem-solving and critical thinking is more important than THE TEST— a colleague and I recently planned an after-school workshop for parents on study strategies to use with their children to coach them through the process of learning how to study based on their individual learning styles. Intermediate grade students often haven't a clue what "studying" means, and parents are often unsure how to help them.

We set a date and announced it in our weekly newsletter each week for several weeks... Not one parent attended! I know that there are many reasons that parents may be unable to attend an activity right after school, but our school offers many opportunities for parental involvement, with times for those activities ranging from early morning to late evening, and participation is always low.

Although I agree with the premise of the article, there are many variables in education that are out of the control of teachers.

Karen VanEgdom


I recently read an article about making important life decisions (related to career choices) and it was said in the article that the best decisions in life are made when we take into consideration both what the head and heart are saying to us.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if schools helped children learn to use both their head and heart in learning.I will keep the points of this article in mind as I train adults and raise my family.

Patty Wells,


Coping with Depression
Readers appreciated the sensitive story, Helping Kids with Depression, by Skip Corsini, an adult writer whose personal experience with depression informs his views.



Thank you so much for this article. I have owned a therapeutic child care facility for many years. I have seen many children receive a diagnosis of ADD, ADHD, ODD, and an assortment of other mental health terms when in reality my staff and I felt they were depressed. Many times the depression was due to the stress of divorce and all the issues that surround divorce, a stressed out life and parental lifestyle...


This past August I changed professions and have gone to work for an organization called Church Initiative. They are the producers of DivorceCare and several other programs that address life crisis situations. I will be putting together a program for churches to use with children of divorce.

Any information or other articles on depression would be greatly appreciated. Or any information you may come across on children and divorce would help. There's not much available on children and divorce and yet it's projected that almost 60 percent of today's children will experience living in a divorced home before they are 18 years of age. Most will have to process the stage of depression in order to move forward into their adult lives.
Linda Ranson-Jacobs, Director of Children's Ministry, Church Initiative,



How do you tell the difference between a child suffering from depression and a child who is gifted? A gifted child can be very intense in dealing with emotionally charged issues and in one's perception of his/her standing with peers. The seemingly smallest upsets can be blown out of proportion creating a very stressful environment.

Connect for Kids' response:
Connect for Kids suggests that you seek advice from someone with professional experience evaluating children. Certainly children with special talents also face special challenges and it can be hard to figure out where one thing begins and another ends. Professionals, who see hundreds of children, can have great insight into this.
For general information on childhood depression and giftedness, there are great resources on the Web. You might look at the Web site of the NYU Child Study Center,; and


Businesses and Schools
In Can This Partnership Be Saved, Gary M. Stern reported on the Metropolitan Corporate Academy, an alternative school in Brooklyn, New York, developed with help from Goldman, Sachs & Co. investment bank.


MCA seemed great in the beginning—meeting the students where they were at—especially in targeting the at-risk students. Now, it is back to putting the students in a box and standardizing the product. At the same time raising class size and loosing its focusing of helping the at-risk students. It seems like we have answers to help students at risk of failing-but we loose focus on what is important in the long term.


Barbara Frankel-Goldsmith, LCSW,


Volunteers (and Money) Needed
In Wanted: More Militant Mentors for Mentoring, Bill Treanor of Youth Today spoke out about the need for politician to put their money where their mouths are when it comes to mentoring. Here's what one reader had to say:


Money, money, money—Perhaps if these wonderful organizations and each public school in the country just went out and actively solicited mentors especially for those who most needed them... without big salaries for organizational executives. We can as a community take care of our own. Parents and community members VOLUNTEER as mentors in our community. If the fed money isn't there, just DO IT. Don't whine!!!


Boys and Special Ed
One reader expressed concern about a current trend in our schools to place young boys in special education:

Unless one has gone through the experience of having a school
try to label one's son as having some kind of disorder (it used to be ADD or ADHD, but now it's Asperger's Syndrome or others), one is often
unaware of the warehousing of our young boys needlessly into special education. I have seen this time and time again in the Seattle School District and have also experienced it firsthand. It is an easy way to deal with more challenging youngsters and one in which no party (parents, educators, or students) receive any blame, because the problem is defined as a type of pathological/clinical disorder.

However, it impacts the child in the future, as the scarlet letter of "special ed" follows the student into higher grades and is particularly difficult to clear from one's record after it is initially assigned. The results of such cataloging are that many potentially productive individuals rise only to a certain level of productivity and scholarship.

According to a 1997 American Psychologist article, boys are ten times more likely than girls to be diagnosed with ADD—boys brains mature (in certain functions) at a slower rate than girls, and indeed this is certainly part of the reason for this trend. However, the problem goes deeper than this and involves the way in which education (particularly co-ed education) is being administered these days.

It is most unfortunate that this subject has been addressed more by what I would call "right wing" groups, simply because these groups consider everything a conspiracy to emasculate the population and to destroy "their values." However, eventually the problem will be seen as it really education problem and one in need of reform.

Eric S Madis