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Re: Lead and behavior problems.

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From: Larry Seiler (lseiler_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Thu Aug 29 2002 - 20:09:41 PDT


From: Marvin Bartel <marvinpb@goshen.edu>

>In looking for more on the subject, I found a very interesting medical
>study that makes the claim that crime rates are also related to lead.
>See article by Judy Mann about the work of Herbert L. Needleman, of the
>University of Pittsburgh's School of Medicine at this web site.

http://www.heinzawards.net/articleDetail.asp?articleID=71

>"He estimates that 11 to 38 percent of the nation's delinquency is
.attributable to high lead exposure." As I read this, I am thinking there
>may be other contributing variables that may not be fully accounted. I
>suspected that the same living conditions that foster lead intake also
>foster a number of other criminal influences. Needleman though of that
>too. "Adjusting for such factors as race, parental education, occupation,
>family size and crime rate in the neighborhood the youths came from, he
>found those with high lead levels were twice as likely to be delinquent
>than those with low levels."

All well and interesting. I think this might go on debated for quite sometime in our society. For one, our society does not want to be held accountable for its moral decline and value reassessments...but simply desires more and more licentiousness to indulge in destructive . I just finished an AODA grad class, (drugs and alcohol)...as we attempt to put together a core of teachers that can work with the couselors. We have kids turn offensive
shirts inside out when they wear them to school, but from their good MTV diet, another entire more shapes and models what a "free" society ought to mean. Ever watch MTV for a near full afternoon and evening? Teen soft porn would be a kind way to describe it. As such, any adult from teachers to pastor, priest, and parents that suggest things contrary are way out of it.

We could argue this has always been the case, and we could also say then in response that such is the pattern historically of nations that crumbled and fell apart. Those public baths of Pompeii come to my mind...where I remember in my time spent in Italy seeing the orgy houses and every imaginable sexual position portrayed on the walls; this a highly civilized city for its time.

Drugs, parents on alcohol....strains on marriage and break up of families. Take a course on AODA...and you'll certainly not consider lead the problem where alcohol and drugs are the occuring problem. That and a society bent on throwing off every restraint.

Our Family and Consumer Education teacher was just telling me this morning...that when they discuss the family, and she asks, "What is a family?" that she gets unbelievable answers. Turns out kids dealing with parents splitting up, remarring...and in a smaller community- suddenly students have other kids in the school that are now their cousins. Kids today have a hard time many of them describing family.

Being 48 years of age...I can remember when kids knew what a family was. Oh...we can say "thank God that we no longer have the societal strain that forces adults to remain married in an unloving union because the word 'divorce' was such a dirty word!" Yes...but, I remember too that when adults made such a strained decision to remain married the reasoning was always..."for the sake of the kids!"

Today...the "sake of the kids" is a very low priority with the many egocentric selfish individualistic adults. I nearly almost have a hard time even saying "adults" but perhaps 34 year olds going on 17!

Lastly, where I'm going with all this...you can add to the breakup of the family, a change in societal mores, drugs and alcohol...okay, even lead. We learned a few interesting things from a specialist from Minnesota we've been listening to in our inservice on reading. Others may have heard this...but...a certain number of "sight words" needs to be learned by the age 2-1/2 or the kid will be behind and struggling to catch up with others in every
grade thru high school, and the list was rather large. Then there are six basic syllable types dealing with vowels, consonants, and certain rules that is said to be needed to learn by the end of 2nd grade or they will be missing out in understanding text books, assignments, and eventually tuning out; which effects personal estimations of education, of self, of what the future holds, etc; no doubt leading to a sense of futility, anger, and
crime.

It was quite enlightening, and the elementary department of our school really saw what was necessary on their part to try and remedy reading problems. However, going back to that certain number of "sight words" that needed to be learned by 2-1/2 years of age....goodness, without suggesting the ethics of being a single parent (because we do need a particular compassion for all people and their circumstances) whether it is good or bad...simply, if
that one parent has to work 1, 2 or sometimes even 3 jobs to make ends meet...the child or children are passed off to relatives, day care workers, sitters...and where is this nurturing and constant atmosphere that perhaps such a child needs to be equipped as needed before age 2-1/2?

Now...compound that to a class of 28 kids where perhaps not enough attention can be given to special needs children. Or, the social stigma such children bear. Its pretty easy to see that a lack of love and nurturing in the home, a lack of preparation which puts them on the defensive from the get go. Life is pitted against them from day one! ...well, its just my opinion one cannot gloss over such factors so easily and rescue the nation's
conscience by pitting the blame on lead.

Now...opinions are a bit like armpits. Everyone has at least two, and most stink. So...I will not be offended that my thoughts might summarily be dismissed by some. Perhaps even deserving a few rolls of the eye. An interesting subject to say the least, and I appreciate your digging up and sharing these articles Marvin. Not your problem my skull is a bit thicker than most! I will admit perhaps my beliefs and opinions will overshadow my
ability to concur. I just think our society in general has a sickness, but one of character, ethics, loss of faith and accountability...with a huge appetite for pleasure. A sickness I think more potent than anything lead could compare to.

Larry S.

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