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6521: #6492:Taking care of our children in the U.S. (fwd)
From: leonie hermantin <email@example.com>
This is a response to Sabine Michel heartfelt comments about Stanley Murat's
unfortunate death and on her critisim/comments on community activists
alleged dependence on the "system" to resolve parenting issues which she
describes as a "private" matter.
Yes, parents are responsible for parenting their children, but Stanley's
case as well as the alarming rise of juvenile delinquency in the Haitian
community of SOuth Florida ( about 60% of the kids involved in the system
now are of Haitian descent) indicate that they need help. Haitian parents
have been stripped by "the system" of what they perceive as their only means
of "parenting". Without corporal punishment, some Haitian parents don't know
of any other method of disciplining. They feel very vulnerable and have in
many cases lost control over their children.
The answer,of course, is not as you say to " depend on the system to enter
our homes and to control our children" but to educate parents about
effective parenting methods in the US. The answer however, must be a
creative one, one which is based on the socio-cultural context not
necessarily methods that have worked for other groups. "Time Out",for
example, in an overcrowded home environment ain't gonna work, the
withholding of privileges may not work too well in households where income
and space are limited.
A solution to this problem must involved collaborative efforts between
community based organizations, the faith communities, and yes the "system"
which includes the school Board and all other governmental agencies
concerned with the welfare of our children. While we don't necessarily want
the "system" to be too intrusive, it is only fair that our children and
their parents benefit from the same resources that have been invested in
other comunities with comparable issues.
In South Florida those of us "receiving monies to deal with the
disenfranchised" are trying very hard in spite of the limited resources
available. Efforts on many fronts to deal with these issues include the
At the Haitian American Foundation we have offered two sets of parenting
related programs : parenting classes which are conducted at churches, adult
schools etc., and we also offer to the community the services of what we
call a parent advocate. The parent advocate is available to any parent in
need of help to navigate the school and health care systems. That position
was created out the needs that we identified and has thus far been totally
unfunded by the "system". Members of our staff have volunteered and received
appropriate trainning to serve in that capacity. Our programs represent of
course a miniscule drop in the bucket.
We are also serve on the Board of an organization called the School
Readiness Coalition headed by former Miami Herald Publisher Dave Lawrence.
At the School readiness Coalition,we are working on a preparing a series of
videotapes on parenting and early childhood education in Creole. Those
videotapes wil be distributed to all parents of newborns as well as to
parents of any kid enrolled in pre-schools.
At FANM Center ( Haitian Women of Miami), a mental health professional is on
staff focusing on family matters and is currently working with the Murat
family. Haitian Support Inc. has a the only "Creole' hotline and referral
service which children,parents, abused women and the elderly use quite
Following the Restavek incident, a very diverse Task force ( includinig
Haitians and non-Haitians) was convened to work precisely on issues dealing
with the safety and the parenting of our children. In the works,is the
creation of a one-stop center where many agencies dealing with children and
family issues will co-locate to provide families with a "culturally
competent" space where they will feel comfortable to come forward with their
The solution also demands that more Haitian Americans become actively
involved in their communities by volunteering to serve as mentors, board
members in organizations dealing with theses issues and so on and on....
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