Monday, April 30, 2012

Kindergartner Charged with Battery.

Why Are We Criminalizing Kids?

I think people are picturing the child in an Oz-type lockup or being arraigned in a criminal court, but we have specialty courts and specialty judges that are designed to deal with the unique needs of children. When the school was no longer able to deal with the child's behavior, he transferred it to a system with a greater ability to enforce punishment. Of course, a six year old is unlikely to have the correct mens rea, but perhaps the judge can find a remedy that makes the parents take the problem more seriously.

I don't know what the solution is, but it sure isn't standing there and getting kicked. No one should have to put up with that, especially after they already tried suspension (the most drastic remedy short of expulsion) and it didn't work. Perhaps that is the inevitable result though - a single child's right to an education doesn't supersede other children's right to safety and the teachers' right to not be harmed. You need to think of the whole society here, but the article's author can't see past what she thinks is best for the boy in question. I think a lot of people have that perspective fail when it comes to kids.

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4 comments:

finrind said...

It's extremely bizarre that noone - in the paper or in the comments - mentioned recent trend in prohibiting teachers any strong measures to discipline students (i.e., some teachers have complained they can't even just simply tell students "Stop doing this!", they need to play a psychologist and have a long conversation with the offenders to discuss their feelings etc.). Now, with that taken away, psychology not working and parents not willing to discipline their little precious, what exactly do they expect teachers to do?

Childfree Vegan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Childfree Vegan said...

I agree with you on one level. It is very difficult when we tie teachers' hands in ways they are permitted to resolve these. We're basically forcing them to chose between tolerating the behavior and escalating it, be it to the parents, school administrators, or the police.

However, sometimes I see this forced escalation as a good thing, since teachers shouldn't have to play policeman. They're there to educate, and if we really lived in a world where teachers could just send a disruptive child home and move on with the lesson, I think classrooms would be a better place.

Unfortunately, that remedy, once common, is no longer a real option for a lot of teachers. We live in a world where parents question the teachers and not their own kids when problems arise. The administration follows suit, and I know people who have left the profession because of this political balance.

It's one of the reasons I have only taught young children in South Korea. I did have the freedom to send a kid out (to a constantly running detention hall) when they were interfering with the lesson. These were kids who lived in American during the school year, so incidents did indeed occur. However, spending the summers in Korea was normal for them, so the kids understood how that system worked as well.

Not once did I get a complaint from a parent or administrator for my methods of discipline. Not even when I made them perform N'Sync. (inSynch? N'Sinc?)

Tom Young said...

@Childfree Vegan
You made them perform N'Sync? Now that is indeed cruel and unusual punishment.

Otherwise, I agree with everybody else. Teachers are in a no-win situation. If they apply appropriate discipline, the parents will sue them. If they don't apply discipline, they are a failure and get fired. If they appeal to the parents to apply discipline, they are victimising those poor 'working mums and dads'. If they go (in desperation) to the police, they are over-reacting.

The focus needs to be turned to those who should be ultimately responsible for the behaviour of the children. The parents.

I know, it's not politically correct to presume that parents should have to do something as radical as, say, be parents. However, if they want somebody to do the job of educating their child, they are obliged to ensure that their child will behave itself in the wider society.