There is ample research, and for any parent, a lifetime of personal observation, that tells us children need to be noticed; to be responded to; to be accepted.
Juvenile crime and many learning issues so often find their roots in a lack of interaction and attention.Kids need to have adult interaction in their lives. In fact research says kids need to receive the support of and engage in meaningful conversation, with six non-parent adults every week. This may include teachers, coaches, scout leaders, volunteers, etc.
In working to improve the lives of children, it is important that we do not forget the children already in our lives. Every child has a need to be known, accepted and loved; and yet we sometimes fail to do the most basic and obvious things for our children and the children in our communities.
In a middle school in Georgetown, Texas, the principal called a mandatory faculty meeting for the end of the day. Before the gathering got underway, the principal made a huge banner with the names of every seventh and eight grade student in the school. He hung the banner on the wall of the gymnasium.
As the faculty arrived, he passed out to each of them little gold stars and instructed them to put a star by the name of every student with whom they had any kind of relationship. Twenty-five percent of the students got most of the stars. Another 25 percent had 2-3 stars next to their names. 50 PERCENT of the entire 7th and 8th grade student body had no stars at all.
Think about the practical lessons of this story. Half of the kids in this school arrived each day unnoticed, made it through the day with little or no adult interaction, and left for home with no validation. As Dan put it, “Young people represent 26% of our population, yet they represent 100% of our future.”
As we think about ways to get involved in helping kids, let’s not forget those children, we have the opportunity to touch each and every day, just by noticing them, just by recognizing them, just by reaching out in some small way.