In my lifetime, I have seen a lot of bad ideas.
Most bad ideas quickly fade away.
However sometimes bad ideas take root and linger. These bad ideas started as “good ideas” and it was only with the passage of time and new information that the truth was revealed.
And now and then are a few bad ideas that simply seem to refuse to die.
This is a simple example but illustrates my point. There was a time when people believed that giving water to an athlete before or during athletic activity was harmful.
Today, if your eleven-year-old was practicing a sport for two hours in 100 degree heat, and not given multiple water breaks, those in charge would be removed from their coaching responsibilities immediately, and would certainly face abuse or neglect allegations. However in 1966, the common thinking was giving water to an athlete during or prior to practice or a game was a BAD thing to do. I know. I was an eleven-year-old football player in 1966.
Over time, we learned that water was necessary for the health and survival of athletes. We changed our minds, and our behaviors, when new information collided with common sense. Today, we express outrage if a kid does not get a water break, yet we accept the reality of millions of kids growing up in an orphanage, outside of family care.
Hundreds of years ago an orphanage seemed like a good idea.
Today, we should know better. It should be as obvious as the need for water that children belong in a family, not an institution. Why hasn’t our thinking changed? Or more importantly, why has our acceptance of orphanages for orphans continued?
Think about it.
Here is the point. Our thinking hundreds of years ago, or just a few years ago, in many cases, is often proven to be obsolete .
Orphanages may have seemed like a good idea in the 1800’s.
Today, we know there could not be a worse place for kid to grow up.
We know, because we have access to the indisputable science that love grows kids.
Yet, all over the world orphanages proliferate and are go-to solution for kids who are not with their family of origin. The next question we have to answer is why.
To be fair, it seems most of the world does not know about the damaging effects of growing up in an orphanage. When we hosted the first ever permanency symposium last year at Harvard, it became clear that much of the world is unaware of the science that indicates we must eliminate institutional care as a method to serve the world’s most vulnerable children. We have to change the minds of our leaders and then their behaviors.
This week we take action to do just that. We will begin a series of field visits in counties all over the world to share the science that every kid needs the love and care of a family to grow and thrive. Just like giving water to a child athlete, the obvious next step will be to move children from institutions to families, or better yet, to keep families together from the start wherever possible.