In my original writings about ponerology, I briefly mentioned its implications for our educational systems. In addition to asserting the importance of preventing pathological people from exerting undue influence to bias curricula or personnel decisions, I said that we should decide how to include age-appropriate lessons about ponerologic material.
Apparently someone agrees.
Months ago, I was reading an article on CNN.com called “Grants Help Abused Women Start Over” by Danielle Berger. The article tells the story of Johanna Crawford, who runs a nonprofit called Web of Benefit that provides “Self-Sufficiency Grants” averaging $500 to female domestic violence survivors in Boston and Chicago to help them with the bare necessities of re-starting their lives. The “web” in the name emerges from a novel part of the program whereby, as part of the terms of their grant, recipients must “pay it forward” by performing three good works to help other survivors like themselves.
What caught my attention was a discussion that broke out in the comments section. It centered around whether the signs of abusive relationships should be taught in schools. And in the midst of this, one comment in particular jumped out at me so strongly that I immediately took a screenshot:
All high-schoolers should complete a course in Cluster B personality disorders and how to recognize common traits of “would be” abusers.
Everyone can sit here and make snide remarks. The REALITY is that abusers come from ALL income and education levels, as do the VICTIMS.
Although, as pointed out in a previous post, ponerology must account for a range of conditions in addition to the Cluster B personality disorders – including psychopathy and various psychotic conditions, as well as for the hijacking of normal people by the pathological – I found the comment insightful.
Should kids be taught about these issues in school? Some will say no because they oppose the school system entirely, but that is a separate debate. As long as kids are in school, I think that they should learn about these subjects. Kids take health classes in school and learn about everything from nutrition to safe sex, as their ages merit. Understanding the signs of pathological conditions associated with manipulation, violence or abuse is clearly important in maintaining one’s health, certainly mentally and emotionally and, at times, physically, as well. And, unfortunately, kids in our culture are guaranteed to run across people with these conditions and institutions influenced by them regularly (or more likely already have.)
Of course, teaching kids about topics like mental illness, manipulation, violence and abuse will be quite a bit more controversial than teaching them about nutrition. There are people, sometimes very close at hand at school or at home, who might feel threatened by such revelations. But that should not stop us from making the effort to provide kids with the information they need to optimally protect themselves.
The whole discussion also brought to mind a program I heard about a while back that sounded fantastic. It’s called radKIDS and provides “Personal Empowerment Safety Education,” teaching children about realistic, practical ways to stay safe, resist abduction and abuse and even recognize tricks that strangers may use to try to manipulate them. This program might be as close as I’ve seen to a pragmatic, age-appropriate course preparing children for encounters with at least some manifestations of “evil.”
So should kids be taught about ponerology in their educational curricula? What do you think? Let us know in the comments section below.
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