Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Dr Louise Porter on protecting children

"When I say that rewards and punishments have limited success what I mean is at the most they can only ever teach children to do as they're told and I think that's a very dangerous thing to do for children.

"It's dangerous because if we teach children to do as they're told they're vulnerable to abuse particularly sexual abuse, and Frieda Briggs who is a professor here in early childhood in Adelaide has interviewed perpetrators of sexual abuse and the single message from these individuals was, I would not have got away with it if the children had not been trained to do as they were told by adults. So individual children are vulnerable if we teach them to do as they're told.

"Secondly children are vulnerable, because most of the bullying that goes on in schools is actually mobbing, where one ringleader suggests to a couple of others to go and pick on some child [who] they don't like for one reason or another.

Now if the two followers or would-be followers said no, I'm not doing that, it's not kind, then the bullying wouldn't happen because the ringleader wouldn't have the courage to do it alone.

"And the third reason that teaching children to do as they're told is not a good idea, is that society is unsafe when it's peopled by individuals who follow the directives of the despots that are in the world, as we're experiencing at the moment.

So teaching children to do as they're told is not a good enough aim for behaviour management. Instead what I'd like children to learn to do is to think for themselves, what I call to be considerate.

Not to think what would happen to me if I get caught doing such and such misdeed but what effect would my behaviour have on other people."

- child psychologist and early learning specialist Dr Louise Porter

By Dr Louise Porter posted 19 October 04


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