Thursday, September 4, 2008

Over-considering wastes time.

Its ridiculous how some people are so trapped by the legal and moral rammifications of an action that they let opportunity pass them by. Sure there's a lot of grey areas that require careful negotiation, but most situations don't allow for navel-gazing.

Take today. We're bound by a duty of care to disregard case manager/client privacy if it impacts on a client's safety and well being. My supervisor was so paralysed by the legalities of informing the school about a client that I ended up spending an hour twiddling my thumbs waiting for her to wrestle her way to a satisfactory outcome.

A lot of things could have happened to the client in that hour, but thankfully nothing did. When my supervisor finally got around to telling the school's youth worker, she discovered that the school already knew. How's that for time well spent?

I believe that when faced with a dilemna, you've got to take decisive action and do what's right, even if 'right' is unpopular and difficult. Take today's example. The right thing to do is inform the school, even if it means potentially losing that case manager/client rapport. What's imperative is getting the client the appropriate assistance, even if he hates you afterwards.

Sitting around considering the 'what ifs' doesn't accomplish anything. Char is fond of reminding me of that line in Batman Begins: "what I do defines me". That's exactly right. Sometimes you have to do the right thing in a timely manner and take opportunity as it comes. That's something that I try to cultivate in myself, even if the choices are hard and may hurt people.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Teenage sex.

Call me a hypocrite, but we HAVE to address teenage sex. I counselled a kid yesterday who was freaking out because he might have gotten someone pregnant and contracted an STD - and he's not the only one. One of my clients just had an abortion, and another's going to have an abortion. Then there's the childhood sexual abuse girl who flings herself at any willing penis, and she's just fourteen.

Abortion is not the solution to the problem: this mindset must change. We must teach our teens that abortion isn't 'just another contraceptive' and that sex 'isn't just another thing'. And preaching 'safe sex' doesn't help either.

On one hand, I think contraception is a useful and essential tool. On the other, contraception devalues sex. The illusion of 'no consequences' has turned sex from a sacred loving act into 'just another thing'. Sex is not something to brush aside, it is an integral part of the human experience and needs to be treated with the respect and dignity that it deserves. I really believe that.

Forget preaching abstinence or precautionary measures, lets talk about sexual responsibility. Sure it might be 'responsible' to wear a condom. But is it responsible to even have sex in the first place? And when you have sex, are you treating sex with the respect that it deserves? Are you treating your partner with the dignity that he or she deserves? Are you having sex because it is an expression of your respect and love for that person, or is it purely self gratification?

We need to be sexually responsible adults, and we need to teach that to our teenagers.

EDIT: If you're in WA, the Family Planning WA site is a good source of information and services.

Redneck boy needs smacking

Let's ignore the whole debate about Palin's suitability as McCain's running mate for a minute. Let's even overlook the whole pregnant daughter debacle and the kind of questions its raising in Oz and focus on something else: the daughter's boyfriend.

Sure you might be a teenage 'redneck', but posting this sort of drivel ought to get you shot. What kind of person goes around talking about his life and girl in that fashion? Do you even love this girl? It's people like you who give us blokes a bad name. Man up, you redneck prick! Take some responsibility and do the right thing.

Sure you might have made the post private NOW; but it got out, mate. If I were Sarah Palin, I'd crucify you. Just the perfect thing to kick off the campaign for vice-presidency.

The MySpace page looks nice and clean now. Oh look, Bristol is your life and you even want to meet John McCain! Oh you freshly minted Republican darling, you! If that doesn't reek of spin, I don't know what does. I wonder if you had to be 'persuaded' to toe the line.

EDIT: I have given this post some thought, and it's not fair of me to target an adolescent boy for his mistakes. I was in his shoes once, and I should know better. My apologies if this offended people.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Why don't you give a damn?

I’m working with a kid – let’s call him Rob – who’s slipped through the cracks. The school and teachers have given up on him, and they went so far as to TELL me that they’ve given up. No one even asked to speak to Rob’s mum at the recent parent/teacher meet, and Rob’s failing almost every class!

Take responsibility for your students! I don’t know how many times I’ve heard a teacher say “I’m not getting paid enough to _________” in the last two months. It’s bloody appalling; too many selfish whingers and too little people who act like decent responsible teachers.

Sure teachers are overworked and have crap pay. Doesn’t mean you shouldn’t care! You think an extra ten grand per annum will make a difference? Forget it! Joe Bloggs will pocket the change, say a nice thank you to the government, and continue whinging about the education system. That’s a load of crap. Teachers ARE the education system. If you want to change something, start with yourself.

Where’s the responsibility? If teachers’ unions can demand extra pay, then we can demand increased responsibility from teachers. You could start with talking to Rob’s mum, or trying to re-engage Rob in school or provide school-based support. Sure you might say “but Chris, isn’t that your job?” Sure it is, but foisting off bad kids onto an external service doesn’t make you responsible.

“One person can make a difference” is not vague rhetorical trite. If everyone came together, we could make a difference. But no, the school just tosses the kid at me. Seriously. I see someone for one hour a week maximum. So how about the other thirty plus hours the kid’s in school each week? Just ignore the problem? What do you think is going to happen to a kid like Rob who’s got zero motivation and low self esteem?

Your responsibility does not end with education. Good grades and angelic behaviour don’t make a better person. If you give up on people like Rob, you’re giving up on the future. Sure it’s easy to care for Suzie-Straight-A, but it’s Rob that needs the damn help and guidance! You need to care about WHO the student can become, not just WHAT he can become.

I’ve spoken to the school, the year co-ordinator and the school chaplain. Rob IS going to get the support he needs, but that’s just a stopgap. For each Rob we help, negligence is going to let another slip through the cracks. Seriously, if you’re planning to give up, don’t even bother teaching.