Chain Reaction Foundation
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Chain Reaction’s Young Adolescent Program: Dispelling the Myth of ‘The Problem Child’

by Margaret Bell | December 2, 2016

When we think about ‘problems’ in the classroom, we often associate the thought with ‘problem children,’ i.e. children who cannot be taught, who are disruptive, even violent, and generally difficult. These children are ‘the other’; they are not our children, they are not the children of our friends; they are simply problem children.

But the very idea of a problem child is flawed in itself. We have to ask ourselves why any of us behave the way we do. Why do some children opt to misbehave and make trouble rather than engage with school. Dismissing these children as fundamentally flawed, possessing bad behavioural habits – helps no one, and represents an easy method of explaining away a complex social issue.

Statistics tell us State secondary schools in Victoria expelled 172 students in 2015, while in Queensland 1,525 students were excluded either on a permanent or temporary basis in the same time period. In New South Wales the figures are a little lower – with 262 exclusions in 2015 – but these numbers are on the rise.

Second Chances with the Young Adolescent Program

At Chain Reaction we take the well-being of our future generations very seriously. This means creating robust and reliable structures within which all children – not simply a select few – can flourish. We believe in caring for and nurturing young people from the full range of backgrounds and who run the full gamut of outlooks on education and on the future. If we are to be a cohesive society, this approach is necessary; if the system fails one child, it fails them all.

This is where the Young Adolescent Program comes in. This program is designed to give disadvantaged kids aged between 10 and 12 years the support and resources they need to progress and to move forward towards positive academic and social accomplishments as young adults and beyond.

The Bigger Picture

Many of our young people have difficult home lives, resulting in the beginnings of serious behavioural issues, causing them to become at risk of falling through the cracks of everyday life. We want to ensure that each and every young person has the best possible start in life. We believe that ALL young adolescents deserve to shine and flourish, and to contribute to society.

Such thinking provides disadvantaged kids with another option and a second chance at an individual level, it also helps to galvanise us as a society. By safeguarding the future of these young people we are creating a strong, cohesive and caring society for tomorrow.

We need to ensure that an expulsion is not the end of the road for a student. Instead, we need to provide the support necessary to assist them as they get back on track. Freezing individuals out of society altogether, particularly at such a young age, achieves only one thing; turning ‘problem children’ into ‘problem adults’.

Margaret Bell, AM - Founder and CEO of Chain Reaction Foundation.

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