There is a difference between bureaucratic thinking and rational thinking. If one is not aware, it can lead to distorted perceptions. In bureaucratic thinking, one is not allowed to use one’s common sense. One is always guided by the letter of the law, not the spirit of the law.
Bureaucratic thinking is limited thinking. Large organisations, professions, institutions, hospitals, universities, and government agencies are usually associated with this type of thinking which helps people working in the system to control and regulate those who use their services. They are continually justifying their existence with new suggestions and ideas. There is an assumption that decisions made by them are in the best interest of the people they serve.
It, therefore, dismays me when the medical profession, which is supposed to look after the physical and mental health of people, become bureaucratic thinkers and engage in navel-gazing.
In the 6 Minutes Medicine on the Internet on 28 October 2019, there was an article titled “Doctors asked to upskill on youth mental health”. It contained recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics saying “Paediatricians need to develop a range of mental health competencies to address the rising rates of mental health disorders in children and adolescents”.
These mental health competencies include:
“‘ Foundational’ communication skills.
Capacity to incorporate mental health content and tools into health promotion, and primary and secondary preventative care.
Skills in the psychosocial assessment and care of children with mental health conditions.
Knowledge and skills of evidence-based psychosocial therapy and psychopharmacologic therapy.
Skills to function as a team member and co-manager with mental health specialists.
Commitment to embrace mental health practice as integral to pediatric care”.
When I read this, I could not help but think “what a load of bureaucratic bulldust” this is? How can we improve our mental health when professionals such as these, are oblivious to what is happening in our society today? They should be investigating the causes of our problems and recommending solutions. Instead, they involve themselves with an academic approach which is just another form of navel-gazing.
These doctors should know better knowing what happens when we do not have any discipline in the home and the classroom. The first five years of a child’s life are so very crucial. They are the formative years where positive or negative conditioning takes place. During this period, what they require most is love and attention, not just pandering to their egos. This is where we teach children manners and how to behave. This is where we show them consideration for others, etc.
Children are not born knowledgeable. They have to be taught. They learn by direct experience and by examples. Parents and teachers both have a duty and responsibility for teaching the civilised values we hold in society. If they abandon this responsibility, can we blame these children for growing up wild and behaving the way they do?
In the Brisbane Courier-Mail of 30/10/2019, I read about police charging an 11-year-old girl for stabbing her teacher. They had to use a taser to restrain her. On the same night, Channel 9 in their Current Affairs program ran a story on a young criminal gang, with members as young as 11 years old, leading the police on a wild car chase.
It seems society is going to the pot, and no one is questioning the present laws which prevent parents and teachers disciplining children when they are young. Yet when they go out of control later as teenagers or younger, as in the above instance, we are forced to use discipline (violence) against them. How stupid can we get? It means it is not OK to use violence against children when they are young, but it is OK to do so when they are older and out of control.
What are our wise pediatricians and psychiatrists have to say on this issue? Don’t they have any recommendations to bring back some discipline in the home and the classroom? Developing skills in psychosocial therapy and pharmacologic therapy is certainly not going to solve our problem.
No doubt the influence of Dr. Benjamin Spock, the American Pediatrician, on all the do-gooders of this world over sixty years ago, was so much so, that it made us abandoned the principle of ‘spare the rod and spoil the child’. Now we are bearing the fruit of following this philosophy. It has taken our common sense away and affected our judgement. We have indeed thrown the baby out with the bathwater.
Violence is an unpleasant experience, and no one likes it. It can be a devastating experience. So we try to fight it and ban it. Have we succeeded with all the laws we have?
In my mind, violence is a form of communication. No matter how much you legislate against it, you won’t make it disappear. You cannot eliminate it. It is in our blood through our territorial instinct. What we must do is try to understand it and harness its destructive power. It is the last form of communication, the last resort; otherwise, why do we have to fight wars? Senseless violence occurs when there is no insight or self-respect in the individual.
Does this mean that I am advocating violence against children? Please try to think rationally and understand what I am getting at. Bureaucratic legislation has not prevented violence so far. It has prevented us from using our common sense approach to communication with children. Children are very intelligent. When they see laws without consequences, they know how to exploit them to the full and treat them as one big joke. This is how one brings disrespect to the law.
There are no hard and fast rules about bringing up children. When we are dealing with children, we are trying to communicate with them. We have to be consistent in our approach and mean what we say. If they detect any weaknesses or inconsistencies, you can rest assured that they will know how to manipulate the situation.
When we stop parents, teachers, and the police from disciplining an unruly child with legislation, are we not asking them to swim with one arm tied behind their back?
What is the point of having laws that have no consequences? What is our judicial system doing? What message are we sending? What perceptions are we creating? Discipline does not have to be equated to violence.
What do you call a society that prevents disciplining its children through legislation yet entertains itself watching violence in the movies, TV, cinemas and computer games?
In my mind, there is no such thing as the past, present or the future. The future is what we create through the actions we take in the present. If no action is taken, our present becomes our future. Are we not living in a fool’s paradise? Please prepare for more heartbreak and tears ahead.
Children are our priceless assets and our future. Governments should be getting their priorities right and helping parents to care for them in these first five years of their lives. The present requires urgent action.