DSM: RE: [SVS Discussion Board] Child Safety

Joe Jackson (shoeless@erols.com)
Fri, 11 Feb 2000 18:43:47 -0500

Joe from Fairhaven School in MD

I have a seven-year-old son who, too is kind of a dreamer. He is in his
third year in the model. We have told him we don't want him to go off
campus (except with an adult), and that we don't want him in the creek.

While we initially had concerns re open campus, he's never gone off campus,
and he's only gone in the creek a couple of times (it's real shallow so that
one didn't bother us too much).

I think most kids won't leave campus if their parents ask them not to, but
once again the axiom comes into play that kids are capable of making good
decisions to the extent that they have been allowed. Therefore if a
particular child has not had practice at being trusted to limit themselves,
I could certainly understand a parent's reluctance to trust that the child
is prepared to be thrust into a situation of responsibility, especially if
the child has funky wandering habits. We would have worried about Jimmy,
except that the way we have always treated him was to give him lots of
opportunities to enforce limits that we set for him and communicated that we
think he's very capable of limiting himself and do not expect for him to
ever fail at that. It's kind of an abstract thing.

At Fairhaven we had one student (six or seven) who would leave campus. He
would make it a quarter mile down the road and a neighbor would call and
someone would pick him up. He was brought up and suspended after each of
these (maybe 2-3 times total) for endangering the school, the last of which
he was suspended indefinitely. He ended up reapplying after spending some
time away from the school and has not run off since. Prima facie example of
why suspensions are good things. Other than that we have not had any other
problems with young students leaving.

Good luck with an emotionally difficult issue.

-Joe Jackson
See Fairhaven School's website at

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