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by Cheryl Lacey, ©2020

Wokandapix, Pixabay, License

(Oct. 10, 2020) — What would you do if you heard schools were taking children from their parents? It sounds like an outrageous question, doesn’t it? Nevertheless, it’s one I would like you to take seriously. Every day decisions are made in schools and classrooms. Parents and teachers might agree with most of them; some, however, result in the ‘removal’ of parents from their children’s lives.

In September 1990, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child – a statement about the care and assistance of children – came into force. Comprising 54 articles, its overarching preamble states: ‘…the family as the fundamental group of society and the natural environment for the growth and well-being of all its members and particularly children, should be afforded the necessary protection and assistance so that it can fully assume its responsibilities within the community’.

In other words, the statement acknowledges parents’ right and responsibility to raise their children. However, it is also understood that services are available to assist them in doing so. Schools fall into this category and their assistance is limited to the services they can provide.

Herein lies the dilemma.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child and its interpretation must be watched closely and debated widely. For families to be afforded assistance and protection, what services should schools provide for families? More important, what limits should be placed on school services?

Some services essentially represent a social or political ‘creep into schools.’ Often the process happens subtly, and rarely raises a major alarm. However, before long, the fundamental rights of the family have been eroded.

In the past, visiting school nurses, in-house school counsellors and psychologists have been welcomed into the school environment. On the surface, they appear to be of valuable assistance to families. On further reflection, have these services inadvertently become part of a slow creep toward the removal of children from their parents?

Two things must be defended: parental voice and parental choice – in conjunction with the fundamental and clearly understood principles central to a teacher’s role.

Everyone has a direct or indirect relationship with schools. What happens in schools – programs, services and their outcomes – affects us all. Regardless of your relationship with schools, stay informed and be involved. Above all else, don’t be afraid to speak out on behalf of the fundamental group of society – the family.

Cheryl Lacey is an Australian author, speaker and education. Her passion is to reform education with a firm focus on elevating educational outcomes by putting the right professionals at the centre of the right improvement and performance strategies. Her new book, “Marching Schools Forward: Discussions on the Direction of Australian Education,” can be purchased here.

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