Think of the kids first

It is true that when the only tool you have in your box is a hammer, every problem tends to resemble a nail.

It is true that when the only tool you have in your box is a hammer, every problem tends to resemble a nail.

Take the action by the Robertsham Primary School in Johannesburg to "suspend" a six-year-old for being unruly.

We have nothing against schools using their expert knowledge in deciding what is the best course for any particular case. But the tendency at schools catering for children from different cultural backgrounds to use a one-size-fits-all approach is becoming a concern.

Too often teachers run to the convenience of diagnosing unhappy children with all sorts of maladies requiring psychiatric help.

Certainly, parents have a responsibility too. They ought to step back from the instinctive reaction that theirs are perfect children and confront the possibility that their little darlings might indeed need professional care.

But shopping kids to experts for every little thing is a cop-out. It also smacks of exclusionism since it inherently confines children whose parents might not be able to afford such treatment to their own devices.

While we recognise teachers often have a thankless job, a greater effort should be made to understand the differences in cultures and the cures attuned to the child's best interests and not the preconceived notions of adults.

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