Letter: clarifying Kennett book request

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To The Editor,

Letters1My name is Angie John, and I am the parent who requested reconsideration of resource material regarding the book “Nineteen Minutes.” I am a concerned parent, but I also hold a Master’s Degree in Social Work and have extensive experience counseling troubled children and teens.  I have worked in schools in the Philadelphia area with children who are depressed, physically hurting themselves and suicidal as well as those who have been victims of rape and other forms of abuse.

Though the Kennett Consolidated School Board has voted to allow the book to remain in the library without restrictions, I would like to elaborate on a very important point. The media and possibly others in the audience at last evening’s school board meeting may not have been aware of or may have been given inaccurate information regarding the board’s vote on the book, “Nineteen Minutes”, that is presently in the Kennett High School. 

The vote that I requested last evening from the board, as stated in my appeal to the board on October 20, 2014, was not to “ban the book” or remove the book from the Kennett High School, but rather to move the book to another location within the Kennett High School, where the book can, as the author herself suggests on her website, http://www.jodipicoult.com/nineteen-minutes.html, be used to ”discuss ways to prevent bullying and school violence”  with professionals who can offer the help and resources to the students who need it.

I stated to the school board, on October 20th that “Nineteen Minutes” should not be in the KHS Library for “entertainment” purposes, but may possibly be used for educational purposes in a counseling setting with the students, conducted by and supported by a professional counselor or a nurse in the school.”

I was asked by a board member, if I was saying that I would be ok with, rather than removing the book from the school, the book being put in the counselor’s office or nurse’s office. I answered yes. This was my request of the board.

While some teens may have the maturity and support structure at home to deal with the issues raised in the book “Nineteen Minutes,” we cannot assume this is true of all children in our school.

Having my Master’s Degree in Social Work and having worked with many teens in the same situations as those portrayed in the book, I know that the book alone could be a launching pad for an already distraught teen who is going through similar hard times. Without appropriate resources and adult guidance, the teen may move in the same direction as seen in the book.

From my professional background and experience working with teens, I am confident that moving the book from the Kennett High School Library to the counselor’s office or nurse’s office would have been an appropriate course of action. By doing so, the book could have been used as a resource together with the guidance of an adult to help young teens who may be facing the same exact situations as discussed in the book, such as stealing and abusing prescription drugs, suicide, bullying, death wishes, teenage sex and rape.

My only concern is the welfare and protection of the children in our schools. Sadly, all schools including ours have a percentage of children who are vulnerable, and we must always keep this in mind when making decisions within our school district.

Angie John

New Garden

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