in Children: 8 Signs Fall Short
Proof Your Kids Now: How to Recognize the 8
Warning Signs and What to Do About Them
Erika V. Shearin Karres Conari Press, 225 pp. $14.95.
Joan Baum, Ph.D.
big problem with this well-intentioned, heartfelt guide, aimed
mainly at “parents, teachers, and concerned caregivers,” is logical:
it is speaking to the already committed—those reading the book—and
it speaks about the already damaged—those too far advanced in
suspicious behavior for families, schools and outside authorities
to effect immediate change, especially considering the fact that
too many disturbed youngsters have no families, or dysfunctional
families, and go to indifferent and inadequate schools. Moreover,
the reported record of too many social service agencies is dismal.
Though earnest and missionary in its call, the book is also at
once too simple and unintentionally self-centered. Karres refers
to herself as a “violence expert.”
Would that Karres had The Answers. Her signs are indeed important
to recognize but, alas, exhortation is no answer; knowledge is
not power. The eight signs are: The child 1) doesn’t listen to,
or confide in a parent or older family member; 2) is chronically
depressed or angry; 3) has access to guns or is fascinated by
weapons or fire, 4) has failing grades, interest or attendance
in school, 5) has bad friends who encourage him or her to smoke,
drink, do drugs, or have sex, 6) isn’t involved in church, athletics,
clubs, hobbies, 7) idolizes evildoers, 8) has no plan for future
success. Readers are asked to “identify each statement as True
or False” and to take action if more than two are true.
Of course, if each of us checks up on every kid we come into contact
with, as the author implores, we may trigger the very crisis Karres
would prevent. Pre-teen and adolescents are volatile stages and
differ from culture to culture and class to class.
Nonetheless, redeemed by a sense of desperation about media-reported
violence among the young and by an appendix of resource material,
print and online, the book has promise as guided discussion.
Education Update, Inc., P.O. Box 20005, New York, NY 10001. Tel:
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the publisher. © 2001.