The kind of therapy I do is quite different from traditional discipline in one crucial element. Instead of treating the behavior, I treat the cause of the behavior. For example, in traditional discipline models, a child is punished (spanked, grounded, yelled at) for engaging in some negative action (hitting his sister, saying a bad word). With Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA), we discover the reason that a child engages in anti-social or otherwise harmful behaviors and treat it based on that. For example, if a child begins to scream because his or her math sheet is too hard, instead of giving them a time out (which negatively reinforces the behavior- the math sheet is removed and so they will most likely repeat this behavior in the future), we would ignore the screams while teaching them to ask for help or a break. If they are shoving other children (or adults) because they want attention (even negative attention such as yelling at them is positively reinforcing in many cases), we would teach them to tap someone on the shoulder and say, “Do you want to play tag?” while completely ignoring their shoving behavior. Rather than punish bad behavior, we assume that bad behaviors are another means of communication in their social tool chests. What I do is to make “bad” behaviors ineffective. One important principle in this theory, though, is that all behaviors must be replaced with something of equal functionality. This, friends, is what I do. Besides getting beat up, of course. I’m an interpreter.
Now, to bring this around to the title of this post. Next year, I fully intend to vote for a presidential candidate who is pro-choice, for the first time in my voting history. I used to be a one issue kind of voter, and as you may be able to guess, it mandated the candidate be pro-life. However, I’ve realized some things in the past few years. While I still care deeply about tiny, helpless, not quite born babies, I also care a lot about adults and born kiddos. This includes women and children and men and everyone. There are a lot of birthed people in pretty crappy situations. Lots of people die every year because they’re hungry. IN AMERICA. Lots of people can’t afford health insurance or their huge co-pays and deductibles and never get preventative care and then suddenly have huge, expensive health problems. Lots of people with mental illnesses never get psychiatric care that they desperately need because they can’t get a job to pay for medication and therapy because they have a mental illness. Or their parents can’t afford it for them because they can’t hold down a good job because they’re constantly having the leave work because their child is having some kind of crisis. OR because some incompetent, greedy bastard decided that your mental health and physical health are unrelated. Lots of little, tiny girls who shouldn’t even know what sex is are getting pregnant because their stupid sex education class didn’t teach them how to avoid getting pregnant other than abstinence (which is, admittedly, the only way to guarantee this), and their boyfriend says he’ll leave and the only kind of love they’ve ever been shown is by gross, abhorrent older men who molested them when they were tiny and helpless (and who probably are experiencing some kind of severe mental illness of their own) and so they have sex with raging hormones boy because he says those three magic words.
I’m too lazy to look it up, but a huge study came out this week that showed that abstinence-only sex education programs had NO (that’s a zero) measurable effect on the rates of sex, the age of first sexual encounter, rates of STD’s, or rates of pregnancy. NONE. However, the comprehensive classes (abstinence and contraception) had a positive (and by that I mean the good direction of movement, not necessarily upward movement) effect on all of these. No, really. Thanks, W.
It breaks my heart to look at 5th graders and realize that some of them are experimenting with sex. The prospect of a girl getting pregnant the year she is first able to is horrifically tragic. Knowing that many girls and women choose abortion is unbelievably saddening. All these things are awful, and all these things are inextricably connected. (Most) Pro-lifers focus on making abortion illegal. This treats only the effect. To treat the cause is to go up a couple of paragraphs and stop patterns that lead to girls and women getting pregnant when they don’t want to be. In countries where abortion is illegal, the rates are lower, sure, but not by as much as you might think or hope. Millions of babies are still aborted every year be it legally or illegally. If we’re going to pursue making abortion illegal, we have to simultaneously (or preemptively) go back a few steps and minimize the number of girls who are in this cycle that leads to teen (and pre-teen) and otherwise unwanted pregnancies. Let’s be serious; kids are having sex. Yep. It’s sad. You know what happens when they have sex, though? Well, biology teaches us that a sperm reaching an egg leads to a zygote. This delightful little guy has a mere 25% (fully natural) chance of implanting into a uterus and becoming a living, breathing human being. Hmm. So, kiddos are doing this, and this happening. This is a real problem, and ranting about the defeat of the American family and then forbidding schools from distributing condoms, the pill, and instructions in the use of each is passively supporting the inevitable abortions and other horrific results.
Perhaps that’s a bit strong. What I’m saying is that I would rather see a president support social policies that lead to girls not having sex (such as comprehensive sex ed program). Poorer kids have sex earlier and have a higher risk of getting pregnant. I believe that there are systematic structures in the United States that make it very, very difficult to climb out of poverty (though not impossible, of course, I know). If they’re having sex (which way too many are), then let’s support keeping them from getting pregnant in the first place. Once they’re pregnant, let’s make it feasible for them to keep the baby. Make sure there’s a safe place to escape from their judgmental, unaccepting, potentially abusive fathers and boyfriends, if that’s what they need. Advertise the vast numbers of delightful families who desire to adopt babies. Emphasize it, make it simple, make it acceptable. Once these things are true, I really believe that the abortion rate in America will fall. If a woman is not pregnant, she cannot get an abortion. Can we all agree with that statement, at least?
The functionality of these principles is reflected in my kiddos every day. Their needs are met through other channels, and they don’t need to use aggression any longer. As a Christian, I ought to be motivated to follow Christ by the grace of His sacrifice for me, rather than out of fear of hell. Real, honest change occurs when I’m shown how to walk without falling into a pothole rather than when I’m punished for my misstep.