Kids Advocacy Action Network

Tired of seeing the harm done by punitive, adversarial, unilateral interventions? Ready to help Lives in the Balance advocate for non-punitive, non-adversarial, collaborative, proactive, skill-building, relationship-enhancing interventions? Ready to take action on behalf of behaviorally challenging kids and their caregivers? Become a member of the Kids Advocacy Action Network, powered by Lives in the Balance. Here's what you'll be signing up for:

Lives in the Balance takes action whenever we learn of situations in which behaviorally challenging kids are treated in ways that are inhumane, ineffective and counterproductive. Action Team members are alerted by email of situations in which behaviorally challenging kids are being treated in ways that are counterproductive and ineffective and are provided with an email to send to the responsible organization or agency. The organization is urged to move toward non-punitive, non-adversarial interventions and provided with follow-up resources to help them do it.

Our advocates also keep us informed of how behaviorally challenging kids are being treated in their communities and alert us to problems so Lives in the Balance can spring into action. Have you seen a story in the local or national media about kids being treated in inhumane and ineffective ways?  Perhaps about a child who’s been removed from school in handcuffs?  Or about kids who are on the receiving end of physical, chemical, and mechanical restraints, locked door seclusion, or corporal punishment?  Or about parents who are being unfairly blamed for their child’s challenging behavior?  Or about classroom teachers who are trying to work with behaviorally challenging kids under impossible and unreasonable conditions?  Or about current or proposed policies and procedures that are a step in the wrong direction and are bound to make things worse? LET US KNOW (click here)! Lives in the Balance will research the problem and, if we think we can make a difference, we’ll take action.  We won’t be confrontational but rather collaborative…our goal is to advocate, educate, and lend a hand to make things better.

Where do you sign up for the Kids Advocacy Action Network? Right here!

At Lives in the Balance, we pride ourselves on doing as much as possible at no cost.  But we can't fund everything we have planned for the Kids Advocacy Action Network on our own.  If you'd like to help us out with a donation of any size, please click below. Lives in the Balance is registered with the IRS as a 501(c)(3) organization and all donations are tax deductible.  

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Here are some of the ways in which Lives in the Balance has been taking action recently:

Action Alert, June 6, 2016:

A story that captured national media coverage -- including in the Huffington Post (click here) -- touted that Shawano, WI schools and police are introducing a procedure to fine parents for their child's bullying behavior if they don't correct it within 90 days. Our advocates urged Police Chief Mark Kohl and District Administrator Gary Cumberland to realize that this is a step in the wrong direction, and a sure-fire way to make parents feel blamed and isolated. We let them know that there's a much better way for parents, schools, and police to work together to curb bullying behavior and it's negative effects.

Action Alert, November 14, 2015:

A story that made national headlines -- including NBC News (click here) -- documented the violent arrest of a high school girl by a school resource officer at Spring Valley High School in Columbia, South Carolina. A teacher requested help from Officer Fields because a student would not stop using her cell phone. She would not leave the classroom at the officer's request, which led to him forcibly arresting her for something the State of South Carolina refers to as  "disturbing schools." Our advocates urged Dr. Debbie Hamm, School Superintendent in Columbia, and Jeff Temoney, Principal of Spring Valley High School,  to turn this very unfortunate event into a learning opportunity, urging a change in course and utilization of proven, non-punitive, non-adversarial, and non-physical interventions.

Action Alert, October 14, 2015:

An article in the Oklahoma newspaper, Enid News, about the use of corporal punishment in schools (you can read the article here), included a picture of the paddle used in the Chouteau-Mazie Public Schools (located about 25 miles east of Tulsa) that highlights the names of the students who have received paddlings. The superintendent of this district was quoted as saying, "The biggest benefit of enforcing that discipline is that students know the paddle exists, and likely will try to stay out of trouble to avoid being swatted." Our advocates urged these two school districts to get educated about the damage corporal punishment can cause to kids, and about the scientifically-proven, non-punitive alternatives to this type of discipline, and urged them to follow in the footsteps of Oklahoma City Public Schools and Tulsa Public Schools, both of which have already banned the use of corporal punishment.

Action Alert: October 1, 2015

An article in the Globe and Mail newspaper in Canada described a disturbing review of the use of solitary confinement in Ontario's 20 youth detention centers.  The 78-page report from the Advocate for Children and Youth found that "provincial practices fall well short of international standards."  According the article, "in 2014, Ontario facilities placed 164 young people in solitary for periods beyond 24 hours. Thirty-eight of those placements stretched over 72 hours and 13 lasted in excess of five days. Our advocates urged the Ontario Minister of Children and Youth Services, Hon. Tracey MacCharles, to take steps to dramatically reduce and ultimately eliminate the use of solitary confinement in Ontario's juvenile detention facilities.  

Action Alert:  August 27, 2015

We responded to the very disturbing story of the shackling of a 8 year old boy by a school resource officer in Covington, Kentucky.  The story as told by CNN can be found here...the story on NBC Nightly News can be found here.  We wanted to make sure that this story didn't die off quietly, as they often do...and our activists urged Alvin Garrison, School Superintendent in Covington, to turn this tragic event into a learning opportunity so that he, his teachers, and his school resource officers can learn better, more humane, and effective ways of working with behaviorally challenging youth.

Care Package:  Teachers Suspending Students in Arizona

As reported on ABC Arizona, Arizona State Representative John Fillmore has proposed an amendment to HB 2011 giving teachers the authority to remove pupils from the classroom and suspend them.  In the bill, the teacher’s decision to suspend is not subject to review or appeal by any other person or entity.  The Arizona Education Association and Arizona Federation of Teachers are opposed to the bill.

The Problem:  Allowing teachers to suspend kids would give teachers more authority but it wouldn’t give teachers the tools they need to figure out why students are acting out, what skills they are lacking, or how to collaborate with them to solve problems.  Suspensions don’t solve problems...they merely remove the problem temporarily.  We think keeping kids in school and solving the problems that are interfering with their progress and setting in motion their behavior problem makes a lot more sense.

Action Taken: Lives in the Balance reached out to Representative Fillmore and provided him with an LITB Care Package.  We asked him to review the resources we provided and let him know we're here to help. If Arizona wants to give teachers more power, we suggest giving them the tools to better understand and meet the needs of students with behavioral challenges.

Care Package:  Parent Involvement and Accountability in Florida Public Schools 

As reported on CNN and elsewhere, Florida State Representative Kelli Stargel has sponsored House Bill 255 proposing set standards for parental accountability, specifies causes for student underachievement, and requires that teachers in pre-K through grade 3 assign parental involvement grades on student report cards based on whether parents send their kids to school well fed and well rested, whether they adequately supervised homework and whether they responded to teachers’ requests, among other items. And Florida State Senator Ronda Storms Stargel has sponsored a bill in the Florida senate (Senate Bill 1680) with a similar requirement.  

The Problem:  While both lawmakers have admirable intentions, we believe their solutions are misguided. Having teachers grade parents isn't conducive to the collaborative process required for solving the tough problems facing many students and their families.  

Action Taken: Lives in the Balance reached out to Representative Stargel and Senator Storms and provided both with LITB Care Packages.  We asked them to review the resources we provided and let them know we're here to help. If Florida wants to improve student achievement and parental involvement, it'll be through collaboration rather than through punitive, adversarial stances.

Care Package:  Student Behavior in Texas Public Schools

As reported in multiple media venues, public school police officers in numerous school districts in Texas are issuing Class C misdemeanor tickets to children as young as six years of age for disruptive behaviors.  Students are then subjected to criminal court hearings and fines.

The Problem: Punitive interventions don't solve the problems that set in motion challenging behaviors...and they don't teach behaviorally challenging kids the skills they're lacking.  They just push kids further outside the mainstream and fuel alienation and adversarial adult-child interactions.  In moving beyond the "usual" ineffective punitive interventions -- detention, suspension, and so forth -- Texas has taken a giant step in exactly the wrong direction.  Fortunately, we're not the only ones who think this is so: admirably, Texas State Senator John Whitmore has also publicly expressed his concerns (CLICK HERE).

Action Taken:  Lives in the Balance reached out to Texas Secretary of Education Robert Scott and Texas School Committee Chair Gail Lowe and provided both with LITB Care Packages.  We encouraged them to review the resources and let them know that Lives in the Balance would be happy to help them become aware of compassionate, effective ways to help behaviorally challenging kids.