Monday, July 11, 2016

LTW: Child #Abuse in American Camps? #education


This week I am handing my blog over to Krystol Diggs. Mrs. Diggs wrote an interesting article in 2014 for CNN. The article was titled, Nate Orlowek: Do Not Touch!! The New Child Abuse. As an educator the topic of this article made stop and think. What do you think about this article? Post your comments below.


NATE ORLOWEK
Do Not Touch!! The New Child Abuse

Many know him as a degreed historian and leader of the John Wilkes Booth DNA project. But Nate Orlowek’s professional career of 35 years has been as a religious educator and camp head counselor. He’s one of the few camp professionals left who remembers when camp was done the “old-fashioned” way.
“There has been a drastic change in childcare, and it’s causing great harm to our children. An out-of-control hysteria called ‘risk management’ has taken over. The new way, under the guise of protecting children from abuse, is in fact causing a far more damaging kind of child abuse that is being inflicted on our children in camps and childcare settings,” Orlowek says.
Many camps are outlawing positive and innocent practices that are depriving children of the feeling of being loved and cared about that is essential to their well-being. These extreme rules are having a serious negative side effect. “The consequences of touch-deprivation are quite severe,” writes biophysicist Dr. Daniel Russell. “Since the consequences are so severe, it seems to me that we should recognize the deliberate withholding of touch as a form of abuse.”
Dr. David Cross, associate director of the Institute of Child Development declares that “just as damaging as physical abuse or sexual abuse is being deprived of normal, human healthy contact, interaction and touch.”
In the last few years, Orlowek has seen the devastating effects of these hysteria-driven edicts. At one prominent New England Jewish camp Orlowek worked at, he saw a series of incidents that shocked him. One nine-year-old boy was totally turned off to religion and proclaimed, “I don’t like any of this dumb Jewish stuff, and I’m not going to do any of it.”
When Orlowek engaged the boy in conversation, he saw that the boy simply needed someone who cared about him and was willing to interact with him. Orlowek offered to teach him all the Hebrew words to the Grace After Meals and sat next to the boy during the whole ceremony. To his astonishment, the director reprimanded him for “spending too much time with one child,” which, he was told, is frowned upon because “we live nowadays in a litigious society” and “we must not do anything that looks ‘suspicious’.”
“Is this really what it has come to?” Orlowek had thought. It’s now “suspicious” for a Jewish teacher to inspire a student to love being Jewish and for the two of them to sit together and sing their hearts out to God? The next morning the same boy announced to his prayer group that “it’s so cool to be Jewish!” All he needed,” Orlowek explains, “is someone who cared about him and made him feel important by spending time and effort to help him.”
An even more astounding incident was triggered when a camper Orlowek had counseled when the boy was in his former day camp in Maryland was at the same overnight camp and away from home for the first time.
The child was feeling homesick, and during prayer services he snuggled up to Nate for reassurance. “I was trained to respond to the emotional needs of my campers. This boy was homesick and in distress. I reassured him that everything would be okay by placing my arm around him.”
Another homesick child saw this and came over to sit on Nate’s other side. “After being in this profession for over thirty years, I knew that this other child also wanted some kind of affection and reassurance. So I placed my arm around him as well, and sure enough the director said to me, ‘You are good with kids, but you can’t do this anymore. You are a relic of the past.’” Since the rest of the staff was directed to withhold all affection, the kids became desperate for anyone who would give them what they so clearly needed. “You are the only adult in this camp who truly cares about us kids,” one of the campers told Orlowek.
The final blowup occurred a few days later when another homesick camper ran over and sat next to Orlowek at the camp’s July 4 celebration and, in a desperate attempt to receive “normal, human healthy contact, interaction and touch” picked up Orlowek’s arm and draped it around his little shoulders. Orlowek realized that he would be fired on the spot if the director would see this, but he was sick and tired of having to deprive children of something so critical to their well-being.
The boy looked up pleadingly into Orlowek’s eyes—the same look he had seen thousands of times in the past from campers expressing the desire to be allowed to sit on his lap. But that was during the “old-fashioned” times, when allowing a camper to sit on a counselor’s lap was not only permitted but encouraged.
Orlowek felt frozen into place by fear of the hysterical director and our “litigious society” and wasn’t sure what to do. Then, the boy climbed onto Nate’s lap and gave him a big hug. “I knew I had reached a defining moment. Do I violate my conscience and shatter this poor child’s feelings and sell out to the hysteria, or do I do what I’ve done my whole life—stand on the side of caring and kindness and Jewish values?
“It was no contest. I was raised to stand up for what is right. Just as my dad once faced down a racist mob to protect an innocent black man being threatened with harm, I knew on whose side I must be on. He didn’t back down or sell out. I could hear his voice saying to me: ‘Don’t break that little boy’s heart.’ But unfortunately, the advocates of the ‘new way’ don’t mind breaking little kids’ hearts.”
Within 30 seconds an angry supervisor swooped in, dragged the boy away and scolded him so fiercely that the child staggered back to the table literally unable to speak. 
In a recent blog essay titled “Camp Counselors Should Be Allowed to Hug Kids” famed child advocate Lenore Skenazy wrote: “And so we have sexualized and criminalized and crazy-ized a lovely thing that, as it turns out, is pretty darn innocent and even good for kids.
Many distressed parents wrote in and shared their reactions:
“Of course children need affection and (appropriate) physical contact. I cannot believe it's come down to such ridiculous rules. The fear-mongering media is turning our world into a paranoid, sterile and disconnected place. Children are missing out on such wonderful connections with important adults in their lives.”
“What a sad, small person it must take to deny children innocent physical contact from those who care for them. At our camp kids were hugged, sat on laps. One kid said ‘It is hard not to have fun here.’
“Perhaps the camp directors should present kids with legal documents explaining why a simple hug or sitting on their counselor’s lap is a legal offense. Maybe we should all gather ‘round the camp fire and read the documents. I'm sure the legalese would be a perfect substitute for genuine caring. “I fail to see how any of these things could possibly be detrimental; honestly, I think the level of interaction and affection (obviously non-sexual, though it seems some people are too weird to understand that) the kids at my camp get are more beneficial to them than 99% of the actual stuff we do at camp.”
“How do we tell a young camper that these natural incidents of innocent contacts aren't allowed because of 'out-of-control' fear? How do we erase the sadness in a child’s eyes when he jumps on your lap or begs for a hug and is rejected? How will we ever heal the pain in his heart?”
Being a citizen of the United States, I never knew about this new form of child abuse. I have read many stories, but this story, in particular, really peaked my interest because I used to be an educator. I thank Nate Orlowek for sharing these painful stories with me. This form of child abuse shouldn’t be tolerated. We must free ourselves from this insanity and return to providing love and warmth that all our children deserve.
To contact Nate Orlowek:
Nate Orlowek: nateorlowek@yahoo.com

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