“As a society, we have grown reluctant to reprimand kids, not just our own, but other people’s, too.” I quote from an article in today’s WSJ. In theory, we believe it takes a village to raise a kid. But the village now seems reluctant to say anything about their own kids misbehavior and certainly not about someone else’s little darling. “But the truth is today’s kids often welcome discipline by outsiders even if they roll their eyes.” The article continues “one woman says she was at a Starbucks, and a little girl kept opening sweetener packets and dumping them on the floor. Honey, should you be doing that?” the woman asked the girl. “I beg your pardon!” snapped the girl’s mother. “Don’t call my daughter “honey,” and what she is doing or done, is none of your business.” We have a society that believes more and more that children should never be addressed let alone be reminded of their misbehavior.
Those who read me know that I visit some schools every year in District #150. I have been pleased with what I see at many of the schools like Northmoor, Hines, Whittier, Columbia, Franklin and others. I observe changes both for better or worse, under new School Superintendents, principals and teachers. The first two times I visited Loucks, I was pleased with what I saw only to be disappointed next time. The reason seemed to be a change of principals. I have seen blatant disregard of a teachers authority on many an occasion. Some of the teachers say that they cannot discipline their classroom because if they send those out of control kids to the office, the principal often sends the kid back to the classroom where the same discipline problems continue. Or the next day the teacher gets a call from the parent demanding to know why the teacher is “picking on my kid”. I’m told that teachers who can’t handle the discipline problems by themselves, some in higher authority many times make them feel that the teacher is the problem.(In some cases, that’s true.)A few of the problems are brought on by those in authority who ignore the small stuff and wind up losing respect and the classroom and whole school suffers disruptions that distract from the learning ability of those wanting to learn.
Gurian Institute in Colorado Springs, Colo., is an educational training organization that compiles child-rearing research. They believe that problems such as anorexia, depression and chronic stress in children are exacerbated because kids today often live in communities where nobody but their nuclear families seem to care much about them. In Garrison Keillor’s novel “Wobegon Boy”, Mr. Keillor longs for the era when “you didn’t smart off to elders, and when a lady told you to blow your nose, you blew it.”
Victoria Juster of Long Grove, Illinois, serves on her local school board. One day while following a school bus, she observed misbehavior in the last row of the bus. When the bus stopped, Mrs. Juster asked the driver for permission to address the misbehaviors and did so. Parents of the mis-behaving students demanded that she resign from the school board. Fortunately, a school-district investigation cleared her and she remains on the board. She fondly recalls adults of a different era who felt it a duty to discipline. She recalls that when as a child visiting a friend’s home and when she misbehaved, she was made to sit in a corner. Today, she says, “I’m sure if I put someone’s kid in a corner of my house, the parent would never let her child visit again – or the parent might call their lawyer.”
Here is the “where and why” in at least many public school systems like District #150. Both teachers and school kids are in shrinking supply. The ITF defends teachers good or bad. One year in Illinois, out of 90,000 teachers represented by unions less than 6 teachers were dismissed for poor performance. And two of them filed costly lawsuits ($400,000.00 spent so far in one instance) The Superintendent and the board want every kid to stay in the classroom because lower head count means less government subsidies. Parents often can’t or won’t teach their kids any code of conduct. The kid pushes for all the concessions to his or her misbehavior they can get. They go to school or out in public and do the same thing. Small concessions often lead eventually to truancy, expulsion, drop-outs with hardly any education, then many juvenile court appearances with minor misdemeanors leading into felonies, followed by incarceration and/or death by violence
Disruption uncontrolled at home, public places and in the street, often leads young people down paths of self destruction of themselves and others, young boys impregnating younger girls, children bearing children, neither the father or the mother with much of an education, no family training and no job. As these kids these kids bear more kids they can’t handle, they create another layer of the same pattern growing larger in each generation.
Some of my readers with children now driving may want to call 1-866-5-MY-TEEN for bumper stickers that say “How’s My Teen Driving? and with your phone number on the sticker. Placing this sticker on your car may mortify your child but may save you lots of accident expense and maybe save some lives.
Kids pretend they are not looking for adult guidance including meaningful discipline. Don’t believe them; they are. As the father of three adults who were once kids, I know. Some have to stop being such sheltering parents and stop being just “buddies” with your kids. You are the adults who should know that kids are watching what you do and testing your tolerances. Many of us are failing or have failed. Fortunately, for this community and country there are far more successes in raising children than there are failures. But growing problems of community safety suggest that there are too many failures.
If you have access to the Wall Street Journal 7/27/06, I suggest reading the whole article from which much of the content of this blog was gathered.
Pleases do not be afraid to speak up or take lawful action when you observe behavior that could some day cause you or your family much personal harm and agony.