Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Let's Talk: Child Grooming

Source: Alliance for Children.

During the public comment section of the April 11, 2022, Richardson ISD school board meeting, one speaker criticized RISD for practicing child "grooming" in elementary schools as part of official RISD policy. Yeah. Then it got worse.

No board member responded. Of course not. Buried in a video explaining public comment procedure, the RISD says, "The board will not engage in dialog with the speakers." I've suggested a way to engage without running afoul of the Texas Open Meetings Act (TOMA). It can be done.

Public speakers are given three minutes. I'm boiling down this man's comment to an excerpt of two sentences:

"To encourage elementary school aged children to speak with their teachers about their sexual identities is a grooming behavior and needs to stop right now. To encourage children to use puberty blockers and castrate themselves is a great evil and cannot continue."

Whoa! That escalated quickly.

According to "Alliance for Children", a children’s advocacy center serving Tarrant County to protect children from child abuse, "Grooming is a professional term used to describe the calculated and gradual process by which an offender sexually abuses a child. It is a horrifyingly planned and manipulative act that makes victims of sexual abuse feel complacent and adds an additional layer of protection for the offender."

Merely encouraging children to speak to their teachers about any and all concerns they might have is NOT child "grooming." If children don't feel safe speaking to their own parents about such concerns, then teachers, school nurses, counselors, administrators, all should feel empowered, even obligated to listen to the concerns the children in their care might have, if only to steer them to the proper resources to address their concerns in an age-appropriate manner. That's not child grooming. That's looking after a child's welfare.

On the other hand, encouraging children to use puberty blockers and to castrate themselves is another matter altogether. I don't for an instant believe that's going on inside RISD schools. Nor should it. The medical treatment that might be provided to a child, with his parents' informed consent, love, and support, is something that should be between the family and their family doctor, within reasonable protections provided by state law. It's outside a school district's realm of expertise. It certainly shouldn't be the responsibility of random opinionated adults. That a person might believe otherwise and stand up in a public school board meeting and accuse the RISD of implementing such a policy, is surely something the RISD should respond to.

We've heard from one member of the public. And now we've heard from me. It's time for the RISD to respond. Come on, RISD. Let's talk.

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