Monday, February 02, 2009

Unwarranted reactions

Last week I blogged this letter because it impressed me.

There have been a couple of vehement responses to it. Here's one published today;

Actually the original letter says the work of the mentors is "commendable".

But the work of mentors is always secondary. It is intervention when the primary source of guidance is missing. Secondary and late intervention has a significant risk of failure. The success of mentoring is variable but often quite low. That is my own experience. But that doesn't mean you abandon it as such. Similarly the rehabilitation work done with prisoners has not improved re-conviction rates enormously but that doesn't mean it should be abandoned. I will always remember Greg Newbold's response to the suggestion we should. He claims that many inmates, while they continue to offend, would be even more anti-social and disconnected and vicious without rehabilitative attempts.

I think Mr Aston has misinterpreted the first writer's words. Certainly I didn't take any inference from Bruce Tichbon's words that the Big Buddy Trust was part of some conspiracy. He was merely pointing out that as a society, via social policy, we have undermined the role and purpose of natural fathers. I don't know how anyone can argue with that proposition.

Here is what Richard Aston has said elsewhere;

“Mentoring fatherless boys is a profoundly simple concept but one that has huge implications in healing the social fabric of our communities. My dream is that eventually every fatherless boy in New Zealand who needs a positive male role model will actually have one and in the process we build a better world.”

I think I can safely say on Bruce's behalf his 'dream', like mine, would be that every boy (and girl) had their own father in their life. Mr Aston appears to accept what has happened and to his credit wants to try and make life better for those boys his organisation can reach. That's a legitimate aim. But some of us want to undo what has happened in terms of policy. The two approaches are not necessarily incompatible. Treat the symptoms and the cause.

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