My Son's Brain is Not Public Domain
By Jen Kehl on February 13, 2014
I remember when I was a Political Science major, I had this amazing professor who had us read a whole list of books on Utopias; just so we would be sure that we knew what a Utopia was, and that we didn't live in one.
After my son was born I began reading Young Adult Fiction, because it was easy on my brain. As a lover of Science Fiction I found my self drawn to the dystopian genre (dystopia is characterized by an undesirable future society usually occurring as a result of some horrible disaster or war). I devoured Hunger Games, Unwind, Cinder and Divergent, to name a few.
Dystopia was frightening to me. Frightening because I saw little truths in every chapter.
Each dystopian novel has an origin story. How did society get to this place? What was the originating cause?
One that seemed particularly disturbing to me was Unwind by Neal Shusterman. Unwind is about a society that develops after a civil war that started over the issue of abortion. The solution to preserve the peace is to give parents a choice.
Not the choice you think. If you get pregnant you must have the child, but if it turns out that you wish you never had your child, or your child is undesirable to you in some way, between the ages of 13-18 you could choose to have your child unwound.
What is unwound you ask? In a beautiful ceremony devised to make you feel blessed to be "chosen", you are kept semi-conscious as your limbs are removed carefully, and donated to people who need them. From your toes to your brain, no part goes to waste. There is no longer any "kidney donor waiting lists" because every day someone is unwound, every need is met. And you should feel so proud of yourself, because you are helping someone who desperately needs you.
This is Not Fiction
On October 14, 2013, legislation was introduced in the New York Senate to require mandatory psychological examinations as part of the required health certificate for students. This would include two psychological evaluations in elementary school and two in secondary school and whenever the school decides your child needs one. This is to determine if your child is psychologically fit enough to attend public school. This is not fiction.
And what if these "psychological tests" determine your child is not fit? What then? Will there be a school for the un-psychologically fit? Will it be a happy place? Will it be full of bright colors and happy teachers? Or will it be gray and dark, with wardens. Will they even feel it is necessary to teach these un-fit children anything other than vocational skills? Will this place be mandatory? Will medicating these children be required? Will parents have a choice to pay for somewhere beautiful and happy if they are wealthy, as opposed to sending their children to this glorified prison?
What if your child is deemed to be fit? What will the public school system do with the information gathered? Will your child be pigeonholed by the determination of passive-aggressive tendencies? Co-dependent? Painfully shy?
Will the school system realize that it could be so much more effective by grouping certain personality types together? By focusing certain goals on one type but not on the other?
Will the knowledge gathered by these tests follow your average child for the rest of his life?
It Will Never Happen
As a parent, it is so much easier to stick our head in the sand and say, "It will never happen."
But it will. If someone thought it, then it is probably a matter of time. Whether it is this year, or 10 years from now. If parents like us, stick our heads in the sand we can be sure it will happen.
Break it down. We may not be making the choice to have our child Unwound, but we are giving the government permission to look inside our child's brain. Our child. Yours.
Who should decide? Who get's to decide? What is the motive for a child who pulls a gun on his classroom? Had you tested him at 7 would you have known? Or what about the child who just went through some trauma? At 7 would he test as un-fit, but with love and support be fine by 7 and a half?
What of the children on the spectrum? Special needs? What of them? Well they be relegated to the list of un-fit. How far will they go? Who can stop them once they start?
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