who owns the behavior

  1. 237 Posts.
    Who Owns the Behavior
    by Dr. David Lazerson
    Oct 05, '04 / 20 Tishrei 5765

    About three years ago, I was teaching a VE (varying exceptionalities) class in a large, community school in North Miami Beach. VE in the public school system basically means they get to pack 20-plus students into one room, some diagnosed as having learning disabilities, others with emotional disorders, and, just to keep things interesting, the rest walking around with the label of behavioral disorders. It also meant doing it alone, since the county down here in South Florida doesn't have the budget to provide for teaching assistants. As you can imagine, teaching this group was a mighty challenge.

    I had one kid named Stefan, who loved to bother and disturb as many of the other students as possible. Even though he was close to 16 years old, his behavior was more like an obnoxious eight- or nine-year-old. As time went on, his peers shunned him more and more. Stefan, ever desperate for attention, resorted to crazier and crazier antics to get the attention he desperately sought. The straw that broke the camel's back was the time he stabbed another student in the forehead with a pencil. At least it should have been. Stefan should have been shipped out to behavioral center until he got his act together - where he could actually function in society as a mentch and not jeopardize another's safety. But the special education board at this school thought otherwise.

    "Look at misbehavior from an ecological perspective," they insisted. "What's the root cause here? Why is Stefan acting so bizarre?" In other words, what outside factors contributed to his anti-social behaviors? Once we got to the psychological bottom of the disturbance, then, according to the experts on the committee, we could change things in the "outside" environment. This supposedly would, in turn, affect Stefan's inner environment. I explained to the committee that all sorts of strategies were tried already - ones that would make any eclectic behavioralist stand proud. These included positive reinforcement, frequent breaks, an individualized remedial approach, peer tutoring, counseling and more. But now, after the recent stabbing, I was concerned for the welfare of my other students.

    Finally, one of the members of the committee asked the no-brainer question: "Who owns the behavior?" It's a well-known catch-phrase that essentially means, "We don't care if he missed the bus this morning, or his parents had a big fight, and he ate five Twinkies and three bottles of coke for breakfast. Bottom line is that he's responsible for his own behavior. Period. No matter how tough the teen's life might have been, he still is responsible for his own actions, especially if they affect others." Stefan had worked hard at making the bed - now he had to lie in it. Fortunately, common sense actually prevailed at that meeting and Mister Stefan would not be allowed to "get away with murder."

    I can't help but think how aptly this whole episode applies, in general, to the fanatic Muslims and the world at large, and, in particular, to the so-called Palestinians and their relationship (or lack thereof) with Israel. There are many Muslim apologists who, like the short-sighted board members of the meeting mentioned above, actually blame the US for 9/11. We were too "insensitive" to the Arabs, they claimed. Too arrogant. Too materialistic. Too whatever - since they couldn't quite put their finger on it. This meant that our very existence and way of life wasn't good enough and just struck a wrong nerve among the poor, downtrodden Muslims. If only we would have shown a bit more understanding and compassion, those infamous attacks would never have happened.

    The argument is absurd, of course, for it fails in one major component: who owns the (terrorist) behavior? No matter how low one feels, how depressed or even how "religious" one feels, there's never an excuse to harm another. Even after the horrific hostage-taking drama in Russia, where the terrorists felt justified in taking (and harming) school-age children, there are groups of people that have called for a "better understanding" of these unfortunate "militants" and their difficult situation. Here, too, they make the mistake of "owning" part of the problem. It's the age-old nasty political game of blaming the real victim.

    It is the same with the so-called Palestinians. No matter how much money, awards, Nobel peace prizes, magazine cover photo-ops, etc., are thrown their way, they abuse it and spit into the hand that feeds them. For decades, the corrupt Palestinian Authority has squandered both money and opportunity. And each time, the "enlightened" leaders of the West, so anxious for acceptance, gave a verbal reprimand and said, "It's time to get serious about stopping terrorism." The more the West does this, the more fanatic Muslim leaders laugh and simply continue to do what they know and love best – terrorism. And, like my former student Stefan, they engage in the worst sorts of behaviors, blaming everyone but themselves.

    Quite frankly, unless you're a terrorist supporter, one must be quite sick of their lame excuses and justifications for truly criminal actions. Oh sure, you'll have the UN and the EU still giving them a sympathetic ear, but that's only because Stefan isn't in their own backyard. And you may even have a president that, in seeking to pacify a large Arabist lobby, will still blame tiny Israel for the "humiliation" of the so-called Palestinians. But we need to ask the question straight up, folks. Who "owns" the problem of Palestinian terrorism? Why were the Palestinians kicked out of Jordan? Why wouldn't Egypt, or any of the other 22 Muslim countries, take in any of their Arab "brothers"? Why can't these people get along with anyone? Might it have something to do with the fact that their culture is one that brainwashes and abuses children, glorifies death, recruits teenage suicide bombers, fosters violence and that, well, kind of makes it a bit hard to have these folks as neighbors?

    Stefan, for his own good, was shipped out of the high-school and sent to learn some good manners. It's time for Israel to do the same. Believe me, if the US had such neighbors, say on the Mexican or Canadian border, they'd be long gone. Never in a zillion years would America tolerate communities (let alone an entire culture) that was hell-bent on its very destruction. Imagine for a moment if the Palestinians were sending bombers into American cities. Imagine if these "refugee camps" (which in reality are small cities) were daily shelling American cities and towns with rockets and grenades. And furthermore, imagine if we knew exactly where these people lived and practiced their brainwashing. Would the president claim that it was the US' own fault for humiliating these poor, unfortunate Palestinians by setting up all those horrible roadblocks and checkpoints, in a desperate effort to protect its own citizens? You can bet your bottom "GW" that entire cities of "Stefans" would be blown off the dang map. Not after a year or two of negotiations. Not after 10 years of UN and EU "behavioral ecology" strategy meetings. These Palestinian cities would simply be non-existent after one or two such acts of terror.

    The so-called Palestinians have proved to the world that they are not the slightest bit interested in peaceful co-existence. Not with Israel. Not with America. Not with "Westerners". Not with their Arab neighbors. And perhaps not even with themselves. Their culture is one of war and destruction; no matter how much we try to "understand" them and play part of the "who owns the behavior" game. Yet, there is no cause for depression here. They can and must be defeated by swift and harsh military means. The Nazi philosophy was only stopped when it too was utterly defeated. C'mon Israel. Do yourselves and the entire planet a huge favor. Time to ship out Stefan to boarding school. Wanna still be nice? Give 'em 24 hours to clear out of the "territories", then bring in the IAF to clean up shop. Peaceful coexistence can only be played when both sides are listening to the same music.

    Stefan? He learned, I guess you could say, the hard way, that there are repercussions to one's actions. But he did indeed learn. He's in his junior year in high school and thinking about a much brighter future ahead. Now he owns the problem... and the solution.
 
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