Sunday, May 25, 2014

Making excuses for violence - mental health the escape goat

What is it about violence & mental health of late; every time we here of a violent attack, lives being taken it is followed up with the excuse that mental health is the scape goat for the violent actions of an individual.

A young man rejected from women (& basically who wouldn't reject someone so narcissistic & self righteous who is arrogant enough to think if he does the right things & buys the rights things & has enough $ then people will like him) is now the latest in a long line of offenders of late who have committed violent crimes & then used mental health as an excuse.

VIOLENCE is not mental health. VIOLENCE is a human behaviour.

Of all the people out there offering an opinion, how many of you have actually read the statistical manuals used for diagnosing mental health disorders? There is the DSM V (current one) & then the international classification system. I ask of you to have a browse & show me where it says that violence is a mandatory requirement of the diagnosis.

You won't find it, as VIOLENCE is not a mental health issue.

People of all walks of life commit acts of violence.  People with a mental health diagnosis & people without a mental health diagnosis.  Many people with mental health diagnosis are NOT violent.

To suggest that those on the 'spectrum' are violent only perpetuates the myths, lies & stereotypes about violence in our community & continues to make excuses for what is an act of criminal behaviour, an act of disregard for others, an act of little respect, self respect & respect for others & a lack of responsibility for your actions.

You are not entitled to people to like you.  You are not entitled to have someone love you.  You are not entitled to a job, to a religion.  What you are entitled to is to take responsibility for your actions & how your behaviour impacts on those around you.  You are the change you want to see.  If you are violent people will be forced to make their own decisions about how they feel about you, how they act towards you.

I've lost count of how many times I've had discussions with parents & children about violence towards others.  I once had a discussion with a mother whose 17 year old daughter had taken a pair of scissors to her father & stabbing him with them, screaming profanities & threats in front of a younger sibling & reigning terror in the family home.  Why? Because her parents had said she wasn't to take the car.  The mother then said she felt she had no option than to give her the car keys. The mother in anger towards me, defensive, raising her voice & hands said "what should I have done then".

This had followed a long pattern & history of out of control negative reinforcement.  That is what you do when you give in to your children, when you back down & when you hide in cupboards or rooms while they terrorise you in your home.  YOU make the behaviour stronger by negatively reinforcing it.  This child did not have mental health issues, she does now, as well as substance abuse issues. What she did have was parenting inconsistency & parents who were unwilling to take responsibility for their own inappropriate behaviours in front of their child & to make the hard decisions.

She was not entitled to bully friends at school & then have a parent make excuses by saying "oh she only wanted to be liked". You are not entitled to be liked. You must be a person who is likeable.

When you think different & act different, that will be hard.  If you are threatening & intimidating & rude & arrogant, life has this way of giving us what we put out to others. Consequences of our actions.

I am not suggesting that behind every violent person is poor parenting & I'm certainly not blaming poor parenting on mental health issues. What I am saying that behind violence is a long history of negative reinforcement, is a long line of people who have backed down & failed to give consequences for inappropriate behaviour of children & the behaviour has grown stronger & stronger & stronger.  It doesn't have to be a parent, it could be a teacher, it could be a counsellor (& by the way counsellor are not qualified nor skilled to modify violent behaviour - see a specialist), it could be the wrong psychologist (no point seeing a sports psychologist when you have a clinical or complex behavioural issues - see the right specialist).

What could she have done? Maybe call the Police & protect herself, her family & the other children in the home so the neighbours didn't have to call in a report. She could have stood her ground & said no & yes that is damn hard.  I can reassure you if you do not follow through on your consequences of your children's actions/behaviour they will without doubt repeat the behaviour & it will grow stronger.

Where you aware that the principles of training dogs is the same as the principles of behaviour modification in human beings? We see this time & time again with canines, where breeds are falsely labelled as aggressive when placed with the right trainer we see a completely different response & behaviour.  How we treat others will impact on how they respond to us.  It is basic human behaviour 101.

If you are a nice, kind compassionate person & people do not like you, then don't go reinforcing their behaviour by trying to be friends.  Teach your children first of all SELF RESPECT. To like who they are, to realise that they are responsible for their behaviour.  Teach your children to have RESPECT FOR OTHERS, to appreciate we are all different & as long as we are not hurting each other, we are entitled to be different, difference is good, difference is amazing & to be accepting of difference.  Teach your children to TAKE RESPONSIBILITY for their actions, give them consequences & follow through. Be prepared to make the hard calls, be prepared to take out the drill & remove the door off your child's door if they keep slamming it.  If they won't get out of bed, go outside & water the garden outside their open bedroom window.  If they keep stealing things in the house to fit in with a group, then put it all into storage & sleep on the floor.

You don't give up your love or your family, you don't support their actions, you don't negatively reinforce their choices to be violent towards others. The world will not support it either when they are an adult.

I've only had a few times when I've been called to make those hard decisions; from a screaming toddler in the toy department clinging to my ankle (thank goodness for the lino floor!) & I continued to leave the store, with a toddler sliding along the floor on my ankle, to the look of many. When I said "no" to my daughters request to hang out with a group of friends wandering without purpose down town & stay the weekend at an unknown friend, it erupted in a temper tantrum, threats & screaming, door slammed (handy drill), topped off with "I want to go to foster care, I don't want to live with you anymore". I quietly went to the kitchen & grabbed a few plastic bags & handed them to her. "Here you go, start packing". Of course she tried to stand her ground at first & asked for a bag, I informed her she was not entitled to anything that belonged to me & the State would provide for her essential needs, she could take her clothes & belongings. I told her I loved her & I would not tolerate abuse in my home & I loved her enough to fill out the paperwork for her (which I did regularly) & go via the mental health unit. Of course it went immediately quiet.

On telling a friend the story she began laughing & replied "of course you wouldn't do that" of which I said without hesitation "of course I would". I've sent X-Box's off to Sydney to stay with family, cancelled excursions & yes maybe you see this as being hard. Yet people often comment about how polite & well mannered my children are & I can reassure you there hasn't been tears & hard times. They've also faced a way lot more trauma than most children, disruption & uncertainty, they've faced hell & back & they are still great kids. They have their own diagnosis & they are not defined by those nor are they excuses for any behaviour.  They know without doubt that if I say something is not on, it is not on & whilst children will say they don't have a choice, you need to remember they are still choosing whether to continue with the behaviour or not.  You are the change you want to see.

Yes I would call the Police on my children & yes I would see them face the consequences of their actions & they know it. I will not tolerate drugs in my home, smoking, swearing & disrespect & I role model the same.

Parenting is not an entitlement, it is a privilege.  You are required to make hard choices, hard stands, society will take actions against your children if you fail to raise responsible adults & the shock to your new adult will be hard if they have lived a life of never having consequences for their behaviour. Your children deserve to be educated with the appropriate consequences & to develop behaviour which will welcome them into the community,. You are responsible for doing what is in the best interest of your children, not give them the BEST!. We teach them to brush their teeth whether they like it or not, we teach them to toilet themselves, eat their veges, play nicely, learn to share, to go about life without hurting others, when they snatch a toy off another child when they are little, we don't let them keep it & tell others "oh but it was their turn".  They are not entitled to a turn, they can have a turn when the other child has finished.

Every action we put out to the universe tells a story about us, it tells our children what is acceptable behaviour How we treat ourselves, how we eat, behave. There is nothing like a toddler in the car seat using the same words you used last time you were running late for work & some silly driver holds you up to remind you they are listening & watching every single day.  You cannot teach your children to have respect for their body, when you don't.  If you tolerate violence, they can & do go one of two ways, they may become a perpetrator or they may become a victim. Your actions & choices will impact on who your children become.

You can love a child, a person, yourself & not have to tolerate a behaviour.  We accept what we think we deserve & we do the same for our children.  If you think your child needs to grow into a violent out of control individual then your acceptance will strengthen their behaviour. Call the Police, call the authorities & give your child choices to make about their own behaviour. Yes it's hard to find the right consequences & many parents are just as out of control as their children & know far less about their own issues, yet more prepared to blame their children for all the stresses in their life.  A great deal of what I express will hit raw nerves & I don't apologise for being entitled to my own opinion after witnessing hundreds of children who were not provided with the parenting & the community support they needed to have the life they deserved. We need to step up as adults & stop letting children down. I'm not saying it is easy, parenting sucks, it is hard, damn hard & we all know that. Parenting as a single parent is x10 harder than in a couple. Yet we have choices. Make them wisely.

There will be arguments, discussions & debates a plenty regarding mental health & violence. All the while children are losing their lives, we are witnessing violence in our community at a level unfamiliar; it could be the increase in social media, technology, it could be that there is less responsibility in our communities today, more people dying in their homes & their neighbours not even aware. We are our communities.  We have responsibilities to protect ALL children from harm.  It is not just a job for Police & child protection or the court, these are the end results when the behaviour has gone too far. We need to be more supportive of our friends, of families, of our neighbours; to help people in need, to take more responsibility as adults & if you don't have a sense of responsibility yet, there is no time like now to start. We are the change we want to see.

Responsible, kind, human beings are not born, they are made.There are many health diagnosis which impact on  our behaviour, many people with terminal illness, angry at the world for the life they will never have & have ever reason to be angry about what life has given them, yet violence towards others is not an entitlement. You have choices

We are not are as complex as many would have you believe.  We are creatures of pattern & behaviour, we are predictable.  You can enter a home, have a chat, get to know someone & with the right knowledge of human behaviour, everything a persons says & does paints a picture, tells a story about who they are, their behaviour is the pages, the words of their story.  The ending is totally up to each of us. If you don't like where your story is going, then change your behaviour.

Having a mental health diagnosis is NOT an excuse for VIOLENCE, this is a human behaviour, if it were a mental health issue it would be part of the diagnosis & it is not.  Rambo would have us believe all soldiers with PTSD are violent; the media will sell us myths, lies & stereotypes & it is up to us to educate ourselves about the truth & reality. 

VIOLENCE is not a mental health issue. When we stop looking for an easy way out & start giving our children & adults the opportunity to be responsible for their actions, when we stop negatively reinforcing how people treat us & start giving people the chance to make their own decisions, to make mistakes & to fall, yes to fall hard & learn how to change their own behaviour, only then will we start to see a reduction in violence in our communities. The choice is ours.

Be the change you want to see. R.I.P. victims of violence.

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