Children: Don’t believe a word

I’ve blogged before (more than once) about how ACE’s policies put children at risk of abuse. By teaching children to obey no matter what, and by not educating children properly about when (or how) to say no, they leave children vulnerable. I’ve discovered evidence that this is a bigger problem than I previously thought. We’ve already heard from Christopher and Anaïs that sexual abuse is a reality for some ACE students. The company should be doing more to equip students against it. Instead, their staff training instructs ACE supervisors to view children as unreliable, and to ask their parents to treat them the same way.

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ACE staff are trained from a PACE called Parents: Developing Strong Relationships Between School and Home. Essentially, it’s a guide for staff on how to handle parents. It contains much legal ass-covering:

It is wise to have parents sign and date a conference checklist form. The form becomes a record of the meeting, showing what items were discussed. Having the parents’ signatures is especially advisable whenever major issues or discipline matters are handled during the meeting. Being able to refer back to this information and being able to show that the parents signed the checklist, showing they were informed, may prove to be invaluable should a disagreement arise.

But the thing that concerns me is this:

This possibility should be anticipated. Simply put, “Kids gripe.”
Explain that parents must not take sides with a complaining child. Also, they must not discuss the school negatively in front of the child. To do so undermines the school’s effectiveness and encourages a belligerent attitude in the child. Later in this PACE a further discussion of this topic is presented in the section “Handling Slanted News!”
Again, ACE’s theology that because of original sin children have a degenerate nature with constantly rears its head. Children’s sinful nature needs to be pushed into conformity with God. This requires discipline, and the child’s deceitful heart will not like it. They will complain. But this is not a problem with the discipline. This is to be expected, because their sin nature is kicking against God. The solution is more discipline.
But what if a kid is actually being abused, ACE? How would this be distinguished from ‘griping’?
They continue:

There is much said today about the liberal bias of the news media. The media is criticized frequently for presenting “slanted news.” However, the inaccurate and biased reporting of the media cannot be compared with news carried home from school by some children.

As we all know, the liberal media is the mouthpiece of Satan. And children are worse than that.

Imagine a minor incident happening in the Learning Center. By the time the incident is reported at home, it could be exaggerated beyond belief. By means of slanted news, minor points can become major problems. The way to avoid this frustration is to abide by the following practical points. Explain to the parents how important it is that they adhere to these guidelines.
  1. Give school staff the benefit of the doubt.
  2. Realize their child’s reporting is emotionally biased and probably lacking all the facts.
  3. Realize that the school has a reason for every rule and that school rules are enforced without partiality.
  4. Support the administration and contact the staff for complete information.

Keep the lines of communication open so parents can support the school in its decisions.

This all sounds familiar. And troubling. Frankly, encouraging parents to disbelieve their children sounds like bad advice to me even in situations which aren’t otherwise abusive. Knowing your parents trust you is pretty important to a kid.
When suspected of misrepresenting information, offer the child the opportunity to explain the incident in front of a parent and a school staff member. Ninety percent of staff-pupil problems could probably be solved if this tactic were employed.
Let’s just imagine a hypothetical situation in which an ACE student is being abused by their supervisor. Now, I’m not saying this is a common occurrence, but no one can claim it’s impossible, because it has happened. So ACE are saying that the best way to resolve this is for the child to be called into a conference with their abuser. And then the whole truth is going to come out. Seriously? And, in this situation, if the child backtracks, presumably all the adults are going to say, “There. Doesn’t it feel better to tell the truth?”
And at the end is a cartoon which ACE have chosen as typical of the kind of thing the kids will be taught. Here it is:
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Obedience always makes us happy.
Makes me fucking angry. And it should make you angry too.
Incidentally, ACE are also expecting some parents to need pugilistic treatment almost as much as their children:
Like their children, parents also possess more or less character. Those with less character might be found talking over the back fence or calling other parents on the phone to criticize the school. The only way to avoid a situation like this is to help parents stay on the ball—help them fulfill their responsibilities.

One administrator shared, “We don’t have a bit of trouble with parents in regard to their financial support. What I do, as soon as the support is not there, is to give them a call on the telephone. I simply do not let them fall behind.” 

Here are a couple of photos to show I’m not making this up, as usual:

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About jonnyscaramanga

I grew up as a Christian fundamentalist in the UK. Now I am writing a book and blog about what that's like, and what fundamentalists believe.

Posted on November 18, 2013, in Accelerated Christian Education, Atheism, Christianity, Education, Faith Schools, Fundamentalism, School of Tomorrow and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 33 Comments.

  1. This sounds like Nazi Germany, but worse.

  2. I have to wonder what was going on to make them devote so much effort to telling parents not to believe their kids.

    • At the time this was written, mostly shitloads of spanking. And sometimes other punishments like being made to hold an unsupported squat position for very long periods of time.

      Some people argue spanking itself can be sexual abuse, because children may get struck in erogenous areas. Even if you don’t buy that, we’re still talking about institutions where it is normal for an adult to take a child into a room, close the door, possibly ask them to remove items of clothing, and touch them in intimate areas. And this is all normal and godly. It teaches children that they don’t have rights over who touches their body, where, and when.

  3. Jonny, do you happen to know what is the accreditation requirement for people who teach ACE?

  4. Reading this helps me to understand some of the slanted ideas in my own mind about children. These ideas used to be much more hardened before I had a daughter, but seeing her beautiful personality each day and seeing how, a majority of the time, she is a well-behaved, “good” child, I simply do not understand how others with children can believe that they are are always going to mislead and defy you as a parent. There’s a balance to maintain of course, and as a parent, its your duty to understand that balance. But, the child should be given the benefit of the doubt, not the establishment.

  5. That talk about “sinful nature” of children in itself is child abuse. Very annoying. It is a violation of basic human rights.

    • Fundamentalist Christians don’t believe in human rights. We are too depraved to have rights. Whatever happens is deserved.

      Unless a store clerk saysd “Happy Holidays” instead of Merry Christmas. Then, the oppression is evident!

      At least that is what some of these monsters believe. 😦

      • In Germany, that would be against the constitution. In fact the authorities recently removed all the children from a fundamentalist christian group called “the twelve tribes” because they where beating their children.

      • Same in Canada. More than 50 children removed from a Manitoba mennonite community for the same reason: the grown ups believe ‘spare the cattle prod and leather straps, spoil the child’. It’s just bizarre how easily so many people can rationalize doing the opposite of a principle in support of the principle.

      • Just what I said in our other discussion: trying to base moral on religion leads to violence.
        Wherever there are laws for the protection of children or where states have put human rights into their legal code, one should really fight such groups by removing the children from them and by charge them for crimes.
        Human rights are individual rights, not rights of groups, communities, paries or cultures. The freedom of religion is not a right of groups to live according to their own laws, even if these are against the laws of the host society. Freedom of religion is the right of individuals to believe whatever they want. It does not mean the right to use violence against others, against your women, your children etc. It does not entail the right to brainwash children using violence and intimidation. I favor a multicultural society but cultures who are claiming absolute truth and are as a result intollerant, especially to people among themselves who show a different opinion, must not be tollerated. They cannot take part in a multicultural society.

      • Nannus, just so: there’s a good reason why rights are based on individuals and differences of opinion in this matter (usually by the most misguided of tolerant people) must be fought tooth and nail. The principle of equality rights depends on it; when the allowance for group membership to define rights seeps into law, grave injustices occur and victims are created… in this case children. I still think that any religious indoctrination of children is on a sliding degree of abuse and not benefit. And, unfortunately, reality seems to provide a non-stop stream of compelling evidence to support this.

      • I totally agree!

  6. WTF! Sorry for being vulgar but seriously, how is this allowed to go on?

  7. Just terrible. I’m an ex-ACE student, and although I have never been in such a position as described here… wow, just wow.

  8. Finally! Some one else sees that by teaching students to obey no matter what is dangerous. PACEs teach students should obey parents and supervisors in every matter without question. The way it presents facts is also as if the facts that they give is absolutely right and undisputed. I have always thought that it was dangerous, and now I see the proof of it.

  9. so how the comic should be?? the parents tell christi to clean the room, then she rejects??? well, it’s true that obedience makes gladness, i don’t see it to be against the bible. and the parents also not telling her to kill herself. the parents also tell christi to clean the room, that is responsibility.

    • I’d do away with the comic entirely, but if we’re going to keep it, how about changing the last panel like so:

      Mom: Wow, you did a great job!
      Kid: Yeah, I decided to sort my books alphabetically. It took a little time, but now I can always find a book when I want one and I won’t have to look all over for it.
      Mom: You’re right. It’s usually easier to keep things organized, and it saves time in the long run.

  10. and as an ex-student of ACE, i have never been taught to just obey everything and cannot ask question about the reason why i must obey. you can ask why you must obey. my supervisor taught me clearly what things you must obey and what things you must not obey

    • Well, that sounds better than some people’s experience of ACE. But the cartoon doesn’t say “Doing responsible things makes us happy”. It says “obedience makes us happy”. And that’s a problem, because obedience only makes us happy if the authority is justified and what they’re asking us to do is justified (or if we like the person in authority and enjoy pleasing them).

      I’m happy for children to be taught to clean their room, and I’m glad you were allowed to ask at least some questions. I’d just want you to ask even more questions. What grounds did your supervisor have for saying what you should or shouldn’t obey? Were they right?

  11. Obedience makes us happy? Wow. Not even Hitler or Stalin thought of that one.

  12. This is a great discussion. I’m 38 in May and there is still a part of me that still emotionally feel it’s dangerous to disobey! I’ve done a lot of changing, and have broken with most of the traditions of the old systems. I have a better understanding of why blind obedience is so dangerous. Been there done that. Takes a lot of time to change habitual thinking.

    I’m a bit prone to anxiety. I wonder if this obedience = happiness thing is part of the root cause. Most fundamentalist that I know cannot and won’t understand real life. I have no previous identity to return to. I was born and raised in a bible based cult. My education was totally ACE. Real life examples are modeled by the new friendships that I’ve forged on the outside of the old framework. It’s like observing a new culture.

    I love learning. I hope it will be a life-long journey. I think that isolation keeps these remarkable ideas circulating for generations. Its not very easy to change these thinking patterns, but here is one good place to get new information.

  13. It’s not just ACE pushing this kind of bs. I was schooled with A Beka and Bob Jones materials at small fundamentalist evangelical schools here in the States, and I grew up under similar attitudes. Both of the private schools I went to mislead my mother about their mistreatment of me. I was so miserable, that it was actually a relief when my dad forced my mom to homeschool me starting in 7th grade. Between the authoritarian teachings there, in my home, and at church, as well as the fact that I was undiagnosed on the spectrum, I never thought about my own rights or abilities to push back. This became increasingly upsetting to my mom who, to her credit, actually wanted me to stand up for myself once I got older but could not understand why I wouldn’t.

    As far Christian fundamentalism is concerned, children do not have rights; only parents do. Granted, my parents drew the line at obvious cases of abuse, but this often does not include much verbal, emotional, or spiritual abuse, and certainly corporal punishment is excluded as it is seen as a major good. Spare the rod. And thanks to Christian right-wing lobbyists here is the US, it’s super easy to get away with all of this, and sometimes even get subsidized by the gov’t to encourage it. Many of the believers that I grew up around would be horrified if they really understood what their votes, dollars, and earnestly-held beliefs really support, because they’re not bad people–just very mislead.

    I now suffer from crippling anxiety and depression, both of which fuel so much anger; I have suffered from this for most of my life, but I didn’t really realize it or understand it. Though I know logically that it’s not my fault, there’s still a part of me that deeply believes that it is, that if I could try harder or make myself be better somehow, I’d be “normal.” I’m still trying to uproot that reflexive self-shaming belief.

  14. aesirovginunngap

    Who wrote this shit? This is equivalent to psychological warfare waged on children. The school is the head? Then the Parents enable this?
    Hammurabi help us, society went back to pre-code!

  15. aesirovginunngap

    In essence, this is a Psychological and an Unconventional warfare concept waged on parents and children. The school is the state and the parents and children are pawns in a war. Leading to estrangement and mistrust. How sad that adults cannot see this. Has society reverted back to pre-Hammurabi in some sectors?

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