Sunday, November 29, 2009

When money can't buy you class

It might surprise you, but most kids with anti-social behavioural problems come from richer homes and a lack of parental supervision is the biggest cause, according to a Barcelona study by Foundation Jaume Bofill.

Looking at children between 7 and 12 years of age it was found that while Catalan families are generally “doing well,” a main reason for children’s bad conduct was affluent and “progressive” parents ‘contracting out’ their responsibilities to “school, out-of-school courses, domestic help or other relatives.”

El Mundo’s article on this study quoted Javier Elzo, the coordinator of the research as saying “It is not true that troubled children particularly come from single-parent families, hard-working mothers, re-constituted families, separated parents, or other models different from the traditional one.”

He also stated that the so-called ‘troubled families’ include those characterized by being acquisitive, as well as immigrants who are not integrated into society.

Immigrants who have become integrated are part of the group that Elzo found “dedicate more time to their children.”

His conclusion was that for kids to have “pro-social conduct” it is best to be brought up in a “united family, which allows children to express their feelings with parents reinforcing correct behaviors and supportive discipline.”

My own experience here as a teacher of mainly rich students (older than those in this study) at an expensive private international school, is that it is crucial to show them that in the classroom you are not just another of their servants. This gets their respect and real behavioural problems are then very rare.

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