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Book of the week: Born into violence

Born into Violence
By Inger Hermann
SCM Press pound;11.95. TES Direct pound;11.45 (020 8324 5119)

Inger Hermann has taught religious education in three special schools in Stuttgart. In this book she describes how she rose to the challenge of engaging with children whose lives are defined by violence. Many of the pupils introduced in her book come from homes dominated by alcohol, drugs and criminality. Others are refugees from conflicts in eastern Europe.

Their stories are reminders of the way that, as adults, we often fail to give our children even the basics of kindness and shelter, falling instead, through selfish pursuit of our own national and personal priorities, into casual neglect and cruelty.

The stories are horrific, and yet you know there are teachers in many schools in every country for whom they will be familiar enough.

Inger Hermann is a Christian. Her RE lessons are lessons in Christianity, and they include prayer and a blessing at the end. Her message, though, holds true for all teachers of children whose lives are beyond either the experience or the understanding of pundits, critics and government ministers. It is simply that what all children need above all else, is someone who will listen to them and value them.

A longer version of this review appears in this week's TES

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