By Cynthia Parkhill
staff writer
Lake Co. Record-Bee (Sept. 12, 2007)

CLEARLAKE World-renowned author Monty Roberts focused his message of non-violence toward the challenges of parenting during a recent appearance at Oak Hill Middle School.

“Be as aware of the community as you are of the school,” he said to Oak Hill educators. “Because your students are part of the community and if you can’t fix the community, you can’t fix the school.”

Roberts spent three days this month visiting with Konocti educators. Earlier this summer, he hosted a group of area teachers at his ranch in Solvang.

When making his presentations, Roberts stresses the importance of non-violent communication.

“No one has the right to say You must or I’ll hurt you,’ to any other creature.” Konocti has contracted with Roberts as a consultant for implementing his concept of “Join~Up” — non-violent communication between handler and horse — in the classroom setting.

Roberts’ attention this visit also focused on parents, who contribute to the environment that shapes Konocti students.

He described his work with horses as overcoming fear with trust, “Children are flight animals too,” Roberts told the crowd of about forty audience members, in the Oak Hill gymnasium.

“Flight animals do not want any violence in their lives. They have survived for millions of years by getting out of the way.”

Roberts’ advice to Oak Hill parents was to negotiate contracts specifying positive and negative consequences if an obligation is or is not met.

“Your children will be harder on themselves than you will,” he said. He said that children should have input on consequences.

Roberts drew on his own experiences and those of his wife Pat in raising three biological children and fostering 47 more.

As many as six children at a time were under the couple’s roof during a 30-year period and some of the children had troubled histories that included drug use and other criminal behavior.

Despite these histories, the couple’s daughter Debbie Loucks said that she could not remember any violent conflicts.

She did remember, however, some of the unorthodox contracts negotiated between Roberts and the children.

“We had to fill a bucket with rocks from the race track,” she said, “and there were no rocks on the race track.”

The school board approved a contract with Roberts for the coming year.
Roberts is waiving his speaking fees and will give presentations on-site as well as be available through video-conferencing.

For more information about Monty Roberts and his work, visit his web site,
Contact Cynthia Parkhill at