Behavioral principles have been prominent for forty years in programs for youth. Parenting programs also include healthy doses of behavioral intervention strategies. There is great value in understanding the uses of behavioral approaches in our work – at the same time, there are significant limitations. One drawback of the infusion of behavioral initiative in our work is the perceiving meaning of the word “consequence” itself. You won’t find “punishment” as a synonym for “consequence” in Thesaurus. Yet, they have become synonymous in our work and that has been detrimental to our understanding of the purpose and power of what consequences are and how consequences can be used as vehicles to help us as professionals achieve the meaningful learning, growth and change in behavior of our youth in our care.
This is the first of a three-part series on using “consequences” in our work. These brief presentations are intended to provide a starting point for learning, dialogue and training on an important and pervasive topic throughout services and professional disciplines.
Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch – A Work in Progress Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch began in a courthouse in the old West town of Tascosa. Beginnings, in most things, have a significant impact on journeys. The same holds for a boys’ ranch founded among the backdrop of cattle thieves and gunslingers. Our history has carried with it many traditional beliefs which have strengthened our mission and, at other times, weakened it. These established ideas included each staff member utilizing his/her own personal approach to childrearing, labeling children as sick or broken, and a heavy dosing of behavior modification. Over the past 75 years, we have grown from housing a mere 9 wayward boys to a capacity of almost 300 boys and girls, aging from pre-school to seniors. During this time we have shifted our beliefs from the more traditional to transformational. In tandem with this trend has been our progression as a trauma aware facility. Although we have been relationally focused for several years, just recently we began an intense journey of learning about how relationships and experiences impact brain development. Pioneers in the field who have guided our thinking include Dr. Karyn Purvis of Texas Christian University’s Institute of Childhood … Continue reading