On "Come On People..." by Bill Cosby

Bill Cosby and Alvin Poussaint have a new book out called: "Come On People: On the Path from Victims to Victors." They're on the talk show circuit, and Bob Herbert wrote a column in today's Times on the book. Here's the link to the article:

Here's my comment in a letter to the Times and Mr. Herbert:

To the Editor:
I, too, watched Bill Cosby and Alvin Poussaint on "Meet The Press," on Sunday, and although I admire what they are trying to say in their book, "Come On People...", as a clinical social worker who was worked in New York City for thirty years, I must disagree with Mr. Cosby's statement: "A word to the wise ain't necessary. It's the stupid ones who need the advice." I have found that "preaching to the choir" is actually a key way to effect change. For example, during the Meet the Press interview, the subject of parents being physically violent with children came up. The two authors addressed this as if what the parents in question needed was training or information, presuming that the knowledge that beating your kids isn't a good child-rearing technique would change the parents' behavior. In fact, adults who beat children do so because of their own internalized stockpile of unworked-on rage, not for lack of knowing a better approach. Likewise, the notion that informing absentee fathers that their children need them, or pointing out to adolescents who emulate the language of rappers that they might not get a job as a pilot or doctor, is not going to effect any change either. Adults who already desire to be loving, present parents are the ones who seek out and require information on ways to better themselves, and young people who already desire a life of dignity and financial comfort are the ones who need guidance and access on how to attain such goals. The people who Mr. Herbert states "are still trapped in prisons of extreme violence, poverty, degradation and depression" need the kind of help that could only be provided by a society that can go beyond punishment and provide useful limits and boundaries on violent, anti-social behavior in combination with intense emotional guidance.
Peter Loffredo, LCSW

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