Saturday, February 9, 2013

Repeat Offenders

 According to the New Zealand Department of Corrections website, one in every two prisoners is re-convicted and re-imprisoned within four years of release. With a 50% failure rate, is what we are doing working? Anne Tolley, Minister of Corrections wants to reduce this rate by 25%.
How about 3.5%  That is the result of a 2012 longitudinal university study in the Californian Institution for Women. These inmates are being taught how they can have control over their lives  by Instructors from the William Glasser Institute.  Over a period of five years 500 women have spent over 100 hours learning Choice Theory.  There is currently a waiting list of 200 women wanting to be involved.  They request transfers from other prisons to be able to learn this life -changing program.

Of the 175 women paroled, only five have returned to prison.  That is 3.5% - a long way better than 25%.

This training is available in New Zealand.  Perhaps we need to look at what it can do for our women in prison.  They are the mothers of children now and in the future.  They can make a difference.

And at the same time we could be teaching students at school Choice Theory to enable them to make choices so they don’t end up in prison in the first place. Everyone is one choice away from prison; let’s teach these young people that they have the choice. 

Strengthen New Zealand through teaching Choice Theory Psychology.  Choosing, Connecting Changing.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Bullied to Death

Watching the recently screened TV program Bullied to Death: The Tragedy of Phoebe Prince, several thoughts came to mind.

This scenario is no doubt played over and over throughout the schools in many countries around the world. New female student arrives at a school, leaving behind friends at a previous school. At first the student is popular, perhaps because of a novelty factor. Then the girl is seen as a competitor with the popular boys of the school. The perpetrators join forces to threaten and punish the victim.

Without intervention this can be an ongoing barrage - deliberate, calculated, purposeful.

Phoebe Prince hung herself, after this ongoing verbal assault over many months became intolerable.

A similar scenario occurred at the school when I was deputy principal. The new eleven year old girl arrived – very attractive and bubbly – and at first was welcomed into the group of popular girls. The friendship and the subsequent behaviour of all of the girls deteriorated, to what could only be called a ‘cat fight’, with physical abuse escalating.

The teacher was unable to resolve the issue and parents became involved.

I used an intervention called the Solving Circle from Dr Glasser’s book Choice Theory, a new psychology for personal freedom.

The long term results of that intervention are documented – years later - relayed to me by the mother of one of the girls. The girls involved in the whole situation at school were still friends. The Solving Circle had lasting impact.

In the TV program there was blaming, criticism and calls for punishment of the bullies and of the education staff. Legislation was introduced involving the mandatory reporting of bullying. Nowhere in the article was there any thought given to the ‘system’ and how a school can be such that students learn to resolve differences.

The obvious cliques in the story, the adversarial relationships are likely indicators that competitive forces are at work. Power-over seemed to be the predominant way of interacting.

Until schools change their ‘system’ to one where issues like this are ‘worked out’, bullying will continue and unhappy students may take the ultimate choice, that of taking their own lives.