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You Can't Disengage From the Village

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Eric Lucas       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   3 comments

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Hillary Clinton wrote a book entitled, It Takes A Village to Raise a Child.   What if the village is suspect and you can't disengage from it?   Doesn't this mean that in order to effectively raise your child you have to change the village?       

Growing Up In Spokane   

I grew up in Spokane, Washington.   I grew up in the rural part of our state: Eastern Washington.   And even though Spokane is officially a city, when I grew up there it was not even close to being urban.  

"Not even close to being urban" means:   In the summer people sat out on their porches in the neighborhood and talked to each other up and down the block.   This happened without anyone leaving their porch.   We did not lock our doors.   In fact, I remember as a ten- or eleven-year old locking the screen door one summer because my little sister had started to sleep walk and locking the screen door was the only way to keep her in the house.   We thought it was weird to have to lock the door at all.    

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When I was in the 4th grade I was in All-City band.   I lived in the extreme north of the city and band practice was at Lewis and Clark High School.   LCHS was on the south side of town.   So every Saturday I had to ride the city bus all the way across town.   I was in the 4th grade.   I did this alone, every Saturday.    

One Saturday band practice ran a little late and when I came out of the building I saw my bus go by.   I knew I missed it.   I looked at the remaining busses until I saw one with a street name I recognized and then I got on it.    

However, fairly quickly it became apparent that I had made a mistake.   This bus was going the wrong direction and I was going further and further from my home.   I started to cry.   My tears were silent ones.   I had no more bus fare and I was afraid.   I was also a little black child and all the people on the bus were white.  

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An old white lady saw me crying and asked me what was wrong.   I told her I was lost and why.   She smiled at me and changed her seat and came and sat by me.   She put her arm around me.  

"Well, " she said.  "We're just going to have to get you on the right bus."    So she pulled the cord and we got off at the next stop.   She waited with me until she saw the bus that was near the address of my home that I had given her.   And then to my surprise, when I got on the bus, she got on the bus with me and paid my fare.  

I started feeling much better when I began to recognize my streets.   And when I finally arrived at my stop she got off with me and made sure I reached home and then she caught the next bus going back south, back downtown.  

I write this because when I tell this story today most people are amazed at how safe my city was.   They are amazed at how my real danger in being lost was resolved by a stranger.   They are amazed that my danger was resolved by a stranger of a different race in a racist town and time.   But, the most interesting thing about this story is the fact that, when I was in the 4th grade, we took these things for granted.   It was normal.  

Substance Abuse and Psychological Health  

My wife and I have raised our children in the suburbs.   One of the reasons for doing this was our own experience living and growing up in the suburbs.   And after our law school experience in Boston and Cambridge, Massachusetts, we decided to return home where we grew up.

I volunteer as a drug-court judge.   This means I am intimately familiar with our societal problems with drugs, violence, and adolescent mental-health issues.

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Substance abuse is an epidemic in this country. Studies report that one in five children/adolescents has an emotional or behavioral disorder; that one in ten has a substance-abuse disorder, and only about 23% suffering from a mental-health disorder get treatment. [i]   A 1999 study of the population aged 12 years and older who were civilian and non-institutionalized found that 52% of those with a lifetime history of alcohol abuse or dependence, also had a lifetime history of a mental-health disorder.   When the focus was drug abuse the number suffering from both went to 59%. [ii]    

When a person has both a mental-health disorder and a substance-abuse disorder, professionals refer to this as suffering from "co-occurring disorders " or having a "dual diagnosis."    Evaluations of adolescents in substance-abuse treatment have revealed that between 50-90% are suffering from co-occurring disorders. [iii]   And since 2005, being adolescent and having a dual diagnosis is now considered the norm. [iv]

In drug court the kids suffer from depression to post-traumatic stress disorder. The types of mental-health problems existing in drug court and the dependency system are legion.   It begs one to ask the question whether today we really are a psychologically healthy society.

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Eric Z. Lucas is an alumnus of Stanford University (Creative Writing Major: 1972-1975), the University of Washington (1981: BA English Literature and Elementary Education) and Harvard Law School, J.D. 1986. Since law school he has been a public (more...)

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