Sunday, September 21, 2008

Our Children Are Suffering

Our children, our legacy, are suffering. I don’t see much happening to end their suffering. The high school shootings got our attention to be sure, but our attention was fleeting. How much louder must our children SCREAM for our help? There will be more killing to come until we wake up and take ACTION.

The majority of the books I have read say the same thing. The bullying (AGRESSION) starts in elementary school. It does not start in junior high and high school. It only becomes more violent in junior high and high school as the bullies pounce on their victims who have had enough and snap taking matters into their own hands because the adults around them have failed to respond to their cries for help.

Who is to blame? Is the bully the only one who is to blame? Not by a long shot. We parents bare the brunt of blame. We have spoiled our children rotten and have failed to discipline and parent them at home. Then, we send them off to school to terrorize defenseless children and ill-equipped teachers who do not know how to deal with our out-of-control off-spring.

My children had 11 elementary school teachers between them. Only 2 of the 11 teachers were married with children. So, the majority of my kid’s teachers had no parenting experience. It is not a teacher’s job to parent our children. Parenting is our job. It is the single most important job we will ever have. As a society, we are failing miserably at it.

When I walk into my children’s classrooms, I inevitably witness half of the children (some 15 plus) acting out, purposely disrupting the class. As our children go into middle school and high school with bigger class sizes, the number of unruly students is greater.

In first grade, I became very concerned when my daughter’s young, inexperienced, first-time teacher failed at controlling her class. Walking through the hallway, I regularly heard her screaming at the children. My daughter being sensitive would come home distressed because the teacher yelled and rang her chime all day long. This young teacher used a chime to get the children’s attention. I only heard it a few times, but found it very jarring to my own nervous system. The teacher used this ineffective tool all day long.

Concerned, I repeatedly offered my help in the classroom. My offers were repeatedly denied. Finally, I asked her for a parent-teacher meeting. She accepted and asked if it would be okay if the principal joined us. Taking this as a sign of aggression, by husband insisted on attending. In the end, my offer for help was finally accepted. I regularly assisted the teacher during the daily math lesson.

After my first one hour session, it was clear to me that the teacher had a tough class. There were 20 children, 10 students who were on task at all times and 10 who did everything in their power to disrupt the teacher. I remember being shocked and disturbed that this teacher had been reduced to an over paid babysitter. The ten children who were out of control at all times completely shut the teacher down. She was completely ineffective as a teacher because she was constantly interrupted and sabotaged.

There was one boy who was constantly grunting, belching, humming, throwing things, yelling across the room, you name it, he was doing it. One day I asked him why he did these things knowing he would be told to go to the office. This 6 year old boy told me that he wanted to go to the office so he didn’t have to do the work. I suggested that the teacher just remove his desk from the main area. He didn’t want to be with the other children and bothered them relentlessly until he was eventually told to move to another area in the room. The next day, the boy’s desk was off to the side. He was much happier in his own area and did not have the negative impact on the other children that he had before.

This boy (bad student) who was some how linked to my daughter (good student) from kindergarten through 5th grade. In third grade, my daughter could no longer stand to be in the same class with this boy. I informed the 3rd grade teacher that my child had been in the same class with this boy for 4 years and could she please separate them. In fourth grade, my daughter had a nice break, but in 5th grade he was back in her face. Linking good students with bad students is topic for another time.

Elementary school teachers who ignore reports of bullying are to blame. Not all teachers ignore the reports, but most do. Most will tell the children to stop “tattling”, a word that should be eliminated from our every day language. Reporting AGRESSION can NEVER be called TATTLING! Instead teachers should be encouraging discussions on playground bullying. Teachers can also be present on the playground. They are no where in sight when our children need them the most. The presence of teachers on the playground during recess would be a major deterrent to AGRESSION.

Elementary school principals who ignore reports of AGRESSION and do nothing to put a stop to it are to blame for our children’s suffering. Principals who address AGRESSION, and by that I mean they mention it in an assembly or over the loud speaker, but who do not clearly and unequivocally state severe consequence for bullying (AGRESSION) and follow through fail our children miserably. Probably nine times out of ten, the bullying (AGRESSION) occurs at school. SCHOOL IS GROUND ZERO and must be dealt with head on by school principals. They can no longer bury their heads in the sand failing our children and America as a whole.

School principals have the power to make a huge difference, as do teachers and parents. We have to go to the source, Elementary School. It is time to communicate and come up with a working plan to STOP THE VIOLENCE IN OUR SCHOOLS NOW!

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