Thursday, April 03, 2008

Teachers, Children and What Now?

It is too bad that parents don't get a training manual when we get kids. Sometimes being a parent is not fun. Punishing a child for things as we used to say "hurts me more than you". Loving a child is just as hard. We want the best for our children. We hope to teach them to be good people. So why do we see so many stories of children behaving badly? Is it just the media playing to the emotions of all of us? Or is there something else?

We see more and more stories of teachers having sex with students. We see stories of students being bullies to other students. We have just seen a story of 8,9, and 10 year old children who had planned to attack their teacher. The kids were supposedly angry because the teacher told a child not to stand in a chair. Here in Houston we have seen the report of a teacher telling her students that they were stupid. A parent had concerns about the teacher's conduct so she put a recording device in her child's backpack. What she heard was surprising. The Pre-K teacher was heard saying"Everybody understand that? You're so mean to me, so I get to be mean to you. Y'all are just stupid kids. I swear to God." I can not imagine a teacher talking to a young child this way.

How do we get to this dark place? Are we, as parents, to blame? Do we blame video games, movies or music? Where do our children learn that sex with a teacher is ok. We blame the pretty teacher. What about the school yard bully? They need to defend themselves, right? A teacher punishes a student. So, the kids plot to attack the teacher. Did we teach our kids to react this way? Maybe we have.

Our kids watch us. They see how we talk to each other. They hear not only what is on tv, but how the parents react to things. Dad calls a co-worker a son of a bitch. Mom tells her sister she is stupid. Children are like sponges. They absorb what they see and hear. They are witness to the kindness and cruelty we say and do. I don't pretend to understand why people are doing things the way they do. I do know that what we say to children affects them more than we may know. I have heard a mother tell her son that he is worthless, stupid and the scum of the earth. When I heard this, the child was not even old enough to go to school! Then I heard the woman's boyfriend and his stepsister say the same things to the child. I was shocked. At the time I did not know the mother very well. I did know the other two adults because they are my son and stepdaughter. When I questioned them about what they said to the child, they said that they were just playing. Playing? I was especially concerned because I had thought I had taught my son better. I was also very upset with my stepdaughter because she has a mentally challenged sister. Yet no-one thought there was anything wrong.

In the great soap opera of my family this is one reason why I did not jump for joy when I found out that my son and that woman were back together and expecting their own "bundle of joy". If they don't see anything wrong with the way they talk to her child, what about the baby? What chance does the new one have? I have tried to talk to my son about this behavior, but I have not really made any headway. The older child should be going to school soon. I wonder if he will call some kid "the scum of the earth". Kids love to repeat what they hear others say. I hope his teacher doesn't call anyone stupid. Then again, he is a big boy, maybe he will just smack someone. Maybe he will bring a used diaper from the new baby and plunk somebody in the head with it. And so the cycle continues...

7 comments:

cube said...

It's all very sad. If kids don't get the bad influences at home, they pick them up at school or TV.

Kids pick up the bad lessons so much more easily than they do the good ones.

quilly said...

This is what I teach my students:

If you hit someone, you have told them that violence is acceptable. Don’t be surprised when they strike you back.

If you insult someone, you have told them that disrespect is acceptable. Don’t be surprised when you get called names.

When you steal from someone, you have given them permission to steal, too. Don’t be surprised when they steal from you.

When you threaten someone, you have told them that bullying is acceptable. Don’t be surprised when they try extortion on you.

When you ignore someone, you have shown them that they are beneath your notice or concern. Don’t be surprised when the pay no attention to you.

When you smile at someone, you have shown them you value them. Don’t be surprised when they smile, too.

When you praise someone, you have told them you appreciate them. Don’t be surprised when they share their appreciation for you.

When you share with someone, you have shown them the value of selflessness. Don’t be surprised when they share as well.

When you defend someone, you have shown them the value of corporate caring. Don’t be surprised when they stand to defend others.

When you give someone your time, you have shown them that they are valued and important. Don’t be surprised if they value and honor you.

Oh, and one more thing — just because someone hits you, insults you, ignores you or steals from you, doesn’t mean you have to respond the same way. Instead offer them kindness, and see if you can’t teach them the better way.

Be a leader for peace.

Jill said...

Thanks Quilly, I wish we could always learn and remember your words!

Dr.John said...

The miracle is that there are so many nice kids out there. Kids that care even when their parents don't. Sometimes its a teacher that shows them they are a person of value.

dmarks said...

"We see more and more stories of teachers having sex with students. "

Does it really happen more often now, or did it always happen before and just get covered up instead?

Bazza said...

Agree with dmarks, the media has a lot to answer for. The sad thing for me is it doesn't matter how good you are as a parent, peer pressure will always count for something, and that is where the bad kids and bad parents come in, and do their worst. Don't beat yourself up over this, just keep trying.

maria said...

I am of the same thinking of Dr.John, Thanks God that there are plenty of good parents and good kids around.

We don't hear enough about them.
The media loves "negative stories ,"that's what sells papers.

Marie