Dennis Barr on the Role of Adults
Dennis Barr is the Director of Program Evaluation at Facing History and Ourselves, as well as a psychologist. He was the principal investigator for the Carnegie Corporation of New York-funded research project that studied the impact and processes of Facing History and Ourselves. The Ostracism Case Study emerged from this project.
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"What would I have liked adults to do... When I think about the kinds of things that they tried to do in this case, I think that they made great efforts to deal with this. There was mediation. There were individual conversations with kids. There were calls home and conversations with parents. The issue was taken seriously, but it wasn’t responded to, ultimately, in an effective way. Why is that? One reason might be that the adults didn’t really get to the bottom of what was going on for each girl. When you listen to Rhonda, one of the major pieces of what she tells us is: 'the adults just didn’t really listen to our side. They took sides. They seemed to agree with Sue, and see us as the perpetrators and act from that and move forward with that assumption.' Rhonda needed to be heard and needed to be understood, in terms of what the original injustice was that she felt she was acting on. It doesn’t mean that she had the right and should have been allowed to then go and ostracize and cause all the pain that she did to Sue, but that she had a point of view that needed to be understood and taken seriously. Each of the girls needed that."