Tonight I went to my son's "preschool" for a state mandated seminar on "Child Abuse/Maltreatment". Now I'll be honest that going into it I was already annoyed. Like really, after all day at work I now have to sit through a lecture?! But since it's an important topic I prepared myself to just grin and get through it. After all how bad can it be right?
Well I soon found out after arriving. After receiving my informational packet, I took a seat and waited to hear from this expert on child abuse/maltreatment. The expert turned out to be the daycare psychologist. Ugh. I've met this man before and I'm not all that comfortable with him. He's a Mister Rogers type with the sweaters and just overly friendly greetings. He greets everyone like old friends from way back. There's something just a bit off about it.
But anyway, he starts explaining the need for the class and what we're all going to discuss tonight. Then he asks us to introduce ourselves, starting with me. Of course! After my very quick intro, I went to my special quiet place. Really he was just going over the paperwork in the packet anyway. So as I listen with one ear, I looked around at the other parents in this seminar. Hmm. All Black and Hispanic families.
Let me say that again. ALL Black and Hispanic families.
The staff of the daycare also has a Black or Hispanic background. This makes sense since the kids in this daycare is either black decent or Hispanic decent. As of tonight I haven't seen one little white child. So if you know me then you know my next thought.
Why is this white man discussing child discipline and practices with ethnic families?!
And I swear just as I'm forming this thought, I hear one man say that parenting should be left to the families. That it truly take a village to raise a child. This statement of course goes over the white psychologist head. He sorta side steps that point and raises questions about how we "feel" about child care laws, what do we do when angry with our child, etc.
As I sat there, I became even more annoyed. Lets be real here. How can this man understand and advise these families on ethnic child discipline practices? He doesn't understand the enthic cultural thinking behind spanking!
Why isn't there a BLACK /HISPANIC psychologist in a Harlem school? Someone with a background from a ethnic community? Someone the parents can relate to instead of feeling defensive that this person is trying to tell us how to raise our kids?
Yeah I wrote this, because that's how I felt. Dude doesn't know anything about Guyanese culture and how we discipline kids. If I say that I flick my son to get his attention when he wont listen to me, will he understand what that means? Or is that going to send off the child abuse warning signals which will lead him to report me?
Cause that's the other thing. The daycare and it's employees have a legal responsibility to report on a child/parent they suspect of child abuse. Good law when child abuse is clear cut. But what about the grey areas? Yes I think there are gray areas and it's easy to error on either sides of the child abuse issue.
While it's great to have these classes to help parents with information and support, I wonder why these classes are not tailored to fit the community. One issue I have is that white experts are always "advising" and taking a leading parenting role for ethnic families. Where are the black, asian, hispanic, ethnic experts to help us raise our next generation..... clearly not at my preschool.
After picking up my son, and being annoyed with the director over a food related incident that night, which needs it's own blog, I left the building wondering if the "white" daycare's also have these "mandated" seminars on child abuse or does the state think white parents don't abuse their children....