Recently there has been much attention to student behavior in schools. We are hearing of horrible behaviors from students at very young ages.

I work with many students, parents and school staff including school counselors, teachers, nurses and administrators. Many teachers have recounted stories from their classrooms of students being violent, unresponsive to mild intervention, disrespectful. It is very sad indeed.

I believe there is an elephant in the middle of this, and that is parent behavior. Students do not arrive at school then suddenly become violent. Something has happened to them. When you get a teacher or school administrator alone, they will tell you they are aware of the abusive, neglectful and irresponsible parental behavior behind many of the students who are now problems at our local schools.

Yet, the entire school system has no ability to address this issue. Instead they propose to spend a lot of money on school mental health services. This might work, and it is a good idea in general, but to think a school counselor can erase the abuse that a child has received since birth is delusional.

We, as a society, need to address neglectful parenting. It is at the root of both the school behavior problems as well as the foster care system overload. We have chosen to ignore this critical issue, and it is time we change that and somehow hold neglectful and abusive parents responsible. We owe this to children who suffer rather than continuing to address the obvious.

Therese Waterhous

Albany (June 8)

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