Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Education: Remember The Days Of The Old Schoolyard?

A recent news story that gripped the nation was about a high school girl who was killed while meeting somebody at her school. Her body was found dumped in a city miles away. You hear these stories all the time. We have become numb to them. But how did it ever get this way? When did we start living in a world where our kids couldn't walk home from school and be safe? When did we have to prevent kids from going out to the schoolyards during lunch and keep them locked up in the building? When did we have to start bringing metal detectors into schools to make sure that kids didn't bring in concealed weapons? If you're wondering where this article is going, based on the title, an old Cat Stevens song, it's about school safety, or the lack of it.
The truth is, schools are no longer safe. That probably is no surprise to anyone since our world has become a mass of murder and mayhem. The days when a child who even looked at a teacher wrong and was sent home for a week are over. Now, students have more rights to behave like animals than ever before. The end result is that the school your child is attending is not as safe as the school you attended.
So what can be done about it? What IS being done about it? The schools themselves say everything that can be done is being done. The parents say not enough. The truth is, they're probably both right.
Part of, if not all of the problem with school safety are the students themselves. Because of new laws like No Child Left Behind and all the existing local laws about how kids have to be in school, even though there are a number of children who clearly don't belong in a public school with other children, they have to be there. For one thing, the local police don't want these kids roaming the streets terrorizing store owners, which they commonly do. So these sometimes violent children are mixed into a social class containing kids who are in no way equipped to deal with these thugs. The end result is these kids get hurt, sometimes seriously. Preventing them from going to the playgrounds during lunch only delays the inevitable. And in some cases, these kids are beaten up and assaulted right in the schools themselves.
But the problem gets worse. How many times do we hear on the news about a kid or a group of kids bringing guns into schools and shooting up their classmates and even a few teachers along the way? And this isn't just limited to schools in urban areas. Many times we hear of shootings in very high class neighborhoods. These are always the ones that shock us the most.
But they shouldn't.
Kids are kids, no matter where they live. They are all subjected to the same violence on TV. They all read the same things in the paper and they all have the same basic problems that kids have, fitting in with others. When a kid can't fit in, many times the abuse he takes brings him to the point of doing things that he wouldn't normally do.
If there was an answer to this problem, it would have been found already. The parents say the schools should have tougher safeguards. The schools say the parents should spend more time raising their kids and less time doing whatever it is they're doing.
They're probably both right.

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