Thursday, August 03, 2006


I must say for the record that I am not a fan of the big "news" networks- Fox (or Faux, as I like to call it), CNN, MSNBC, etc...
But, embarrassingly, I do like to channel surf and tonight I came across Donny Deutch, who seems less like a journalist I should respect and trust and more like a Ben Stiller character I should laugh at. His show was all about OUR CHILDREN AT RISK. I'm an educator, I've been reading and hearing about the "children at risk" thing for the past 14 years. During my first year of teaching, part of my salary was paid for by an "At-Risk" grant, thank you Bill Clinton. So, I took the bait.

They had "shocking footage" of elementary-aged children beating the living crap out of each other on the playground. They had teachers who had come forward, but had to do so anonymously so as to protect their jobs, to tell of 2nd and 3rd graders who control their school buildings in Philadelphia public schools.

Part of me is not surprised. Even here in the Heartland, we have some pretty rough schools- especially where I live, since we are in such close proximity to Chicago, we get a lot of gang activity and people who try to escape the harshness of their lives. Oh, and we're like the Meth Capital of the World- Sudafed and farm chemicals, don't you know. So, I know firsthand that there are some really tough little buggers even in the lower elementary grades.

Then there is this other part of me (the Pollyanna part) who thinks it's just all media hype, that your average kid in your average American town is ok. They just happened to go to like THE roughest inner-city school they could find and searched until they found THE most badly behaved kids. I mean, kids have always been rough, right?

So, I don't know what to think. Do those of you who have children who go to school have any insight? What about those of you teaching? I know my own children go to a little dream school where I'm sure there are "issues", but they don't even begin to compare to others. The high school where I teach is a mixed bag. I personally don't ever feel unsafe-even when there are fights, since the fights are always personal in nature- they go after each other for very specific reasons. (He said that you said that I said that......)I've heard other parents talk about bullying (hot topic these days) and how "those teachers have no idea what's going on". Do we? Do we have any control? What's bullying and what's just normal, pecking-order bullshit? Help me, Donny Deutch, help me!!!!


Blogger happychyck said...

Do people really think that children are overtly bullying each other in front of their teachers--and that we're ignoring it? Bullies are more cunning than that. Oh, I know what's going on. It happens in the hallways. The looks and maybe the whispers. It happens in "he said/she said" notes and IM's. I also know that often the kid who cries that he is a victim is the one who started the mess--or at least started something. Yea, some of it is pecking-order BS, and I think it builds character--toughens kids to life's hard knocks.

Of course violence and bullying are terrible things that we need to deal with very seriously, but the public should not kid themselves into thinking that it's as easy as school having control over kids. Or the idea that schools should simply be safe. The underlying "issues" kids have usually start at home and on the streets. And the violent, bullying habits some students have might be necessary SURVIVAL skills at home and on the streets.

So, in addition to teaching them the 3R's, each day we also have to work on reprogramming some students that school is a safe place where you can leave your issues on the front stoop. Now, you're a kid living in today's world--are you gonna believe that school is a safe place to be yourself or are you going to keep your back covered at all costs?

8/03/2006 12:00 PM  
Blogger liberalbanana said...

I think kids are DEFINITELY more violent and angry, as a whole, these days. Thankfully, there are plenty of kids who are completely normal. But when I was growing up, you NEVER heard of kids SHOOTING other kids, or stabbing them, or "just" planning to do that! There were fist fights, sure. But not on the level that it seems to be today. Kids are exposed to so much more - movies, tv, video games, internet. So I believe that there are good kids and bad kids, but lately the bad kids have gotten so much worse.

8/03/2006 12:27 PM  
Blogger Mrs. Bluebird said...

Kids, especially middle schoolers, are pretty good at hiding things from grown ups, and they're getting sneakier when it comes to bullying - they're going high-tech and bullying each other via email, im, text messages, myspace, you name it.

That being said, we had an interesting experience this past year when the whole team was called into a meeting with a principal, a pissed off parent, and a kid who said he was being constantly bullied in our classrooms and we were doing nothing. We all felt like we'd been blindsided because this kid never once said a thing to any of us. He starts talking about all the so-called awful things the kids are doing to him and when he names names they're the kids who choses to stand in line with on the way to related arts, the kids who chooses to eat lunch with, the kids he chooses to walk to the bus with. In other words his friends. What got me was when he's talking he used this little baby voice we had never heard before. It was like overprotective mommy had shown up and he became an infant again. We explained that he needed to LET US KNOW if there was a problem because we can't help if we're unaware. Of course the next day he's eating lunch again with these guys and they're all buddies. Whatever.

8/03/2006 5:45 PM  
Blogger Adeline said...

Wierd scenario that described above.

I don't kow, my wierd friend Andy brought a gun to school, and this was in the 80s. No, he wasn't planning on using it.

I don't know, it has been said before, but I really think that the violence that kids take in through media like tv/movies/video games plus news stuff just desensitizes them to pain/death/violence. You show anyone something enough times and it becomes no big deal. I know some people will think this is *extremist*, but as a mom and educator, I think it's just realistic. It's kinda like brain show girls enough pictures of waify characters as beautiful and girls will want to look like waify characters. To say "oh that's not it..." is kinda like denying the truth.

People will say smoking advertisements don't effect whether they smoke or not, but the correlation between brand sales and marketing expenditure is so strong, if it didn't work...these folk aren't stupid--they wouldn't do it. We are talking the Harvard educated marketing department--they know that if people see things enough, they become more familiar, more familiar means more acceptable, more acceptable is one step closer to where they want to be (esp. in this case for youth who are more likely to begin smoking)

I know media violence isn't perhaps the ONLY reason we see an increase in violent behavior in children--the quality of family interaction weighs in powerfully too, but I don't know...I live and teach in a rough district (I thought WE were the meth capital here in oregon) and I still all begins with mom and dad and the family and the home.

8/05/2006 2:04 AM  
Blogger Teacher lady said...

Okay, I graduated from high school in 1988, and I went to (literally) the most homogenous of whitey-whiterton schools (literally - ONE Jewish person and ONE biracial girl. And they were both tormented. The concept of political correctness hadn't yet exploded across the country.) Anyway, the YEAR before I got to my pristine high school (this would be 1984), a freshman (Italian) student opened her locker one day to find . . . a dead goose head. For real. Apparently, some of her "friends" had just watched "The Godfather." AND some loser also set off a small "bomb" in the boys' bathroom. Did these things make the news? Of course not. Would they today? I think most definitely. Did they make me afraid to go that high school? You better freakin' believe it. And I grew up in one of the "best suburbs" where the school system was ranked in the top 3 for the whole area.

8/06/2006 10:40 AM  

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