At Promise: Children and Families
When an individual hears the words, at risk, they immediately think of all the negative characteristics of terminology: teen pregnancy, troubled teens, gang bangers, drop outs, substance abusers, and so on. I know I sure did. In reading Beth Blue Swadeners article, Children and Families at Promise: Deconstructing the Discourse of Risk, Ive learned that there are so much more to labeling at student at risk. There is actually a history behind the meaning and how at risk became such a dangerous label. In rethinking the meaning of at risk and changing it to at promise, places an entirely new meaning and may give hope to those who are lost and forgotten.
There is much of Swadeners article that I agreed, disagreed, and in some instances, just appalled with. The beginning of her article, Swadener makes the following statement that struck out at me, there is an emerging ideology of risk, which has embedded in it interpretations of childrens deficiencies or likelihood of failure due to environmental, as well as individual, variables. This statement hit me hard because I never thought of at risk students as having deficiencies or being destined to fail due to variables beyond their control. I may be nave in my thinking of what at risk truly meant but I would have never labeled students as having deficiencies.
Swadener continues with some of the child advocacy organizations that work to dismantle the harsh beliefs about children and families living in poverty stricken areas. They create and/or improve governmental policies as well as programs to aid address specific needs of at risk students and families. In reading what they do, I was happy to see that the organizations are working to solve the problems rather than pointing the finger at how the students lives became to be such a way. Also, I knew that there are programs out to help at risk students, but it never occurred to me that families are labeled at risk as well. Swadener listed some of the at risk programs which I was surprised to see that I am enrolled for most: Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and Head Start which is a program that helps pregnant women obtain prenatal insurance before enrolling for governmental insurance such as Title 19, Badger Care, and/or Managed Health. Seeing these programs listed in Swadeners article gave me twisted emotions. I didnt know whether to pity myself for being at risk this whole time and never realized it or be thankful that somebody pushing hard enough to get help for people like me who is barely making it.
Continuing on, Swadener makes a statement that I completely agreed with. She states, all children are at risk to some degree and therefore will require prevention or intervention services at one point or another. This is a new perspective of looking at it and I strongly believe that it is true. I say this because children are at risk of being illiterate, for example, when they are young until they undergo some form of intervention from parents, teachers, and/or friends who are willing to work with them. Same goes for prevention of teen pregnancy, students have to be educated as early as the age of twelve-as scary the thought is-but it is true, including many other preventive life scenarios.
Other statement I agreed with is, One cannot suppose that all of those from a certain background run the risk of failure; often the failures do not occur. I enjoyed this statement because it shows that not every student/family is promised to fail because of their present or past living conditions or of the life choices they have made for their selves or for their families.
Swadener gives the reader a historical view point of at risk, from the medical aspect, social policy and how to deconstruct the effect of the label. In the reading, Swadener gave an example of premature screening of children who may have a learning disability later in life. The study involved children at the age of six weeks old which were labeled at risk if the infant did not perform specific developmental tasks. Needless to say, this study upset me greatly. My