I have a Brownie unit in a rather affluent area. This, obviously, has advantages (for example, we don’t need to worry about an activity that costs a few extra dollars). It does, however, present some interesting challenges – a major one being that kids who lead a fairly sheltered, comfortable existence have trouble adapting to new situations.
This example is fresh in my mind, and I would love some feedback on how to handle it!
We decided to take the girls on an outing for pizza followed by a fun workshop at a local dance studio. They were obviously very excited about the evening! Once we got to the pizza restaurant, the girls realized we would need to walk about 600 meters up the road in an unfamiliar, less affluent, area of town – in the dark, to get to the dance studio. Some of them got nervous, and one said “Are the poor people going to attack us?” I was shocked – where would she have gotten that from? I have known these families to be very charitable in the past (through other activities we have done) and we have also spent time this year talking about poverty around the world, including the need for food banks, etc. I realized she was referring to two homeless men sitting outside of a supermarket across the road from the pizza restaurant – and tried to calmly explain that these men were not going to hurt her, and that we would be just fine walking up the road (which of course we were).
So how do you teach little girls – who have never known hunger, cold, mental illness or poverty – that sometimes circumstances lead people in different directions? That while you should be vigilant about your safety, not every stranger is out to hurt you? It is a fine line we tread, working with children – they’re small and vulnerable, so I don’t want to make them fearless about the world around them, but I also don’t want them to judge people as “bad” simply because they have different economic circumstances.
We leaders have discussed this issue in the past, but I would love to hear from other leaders about what they have done.
By anonymous Guider.
Got an idea for a blog post? I’d love to speak with you about it! Pitch your idea and let’s get your post in front of our Guiding audience! — Talya (rotemt (@) girlguides.ca)