OPINION: By MATT McEACHRAN
What would you say if someone told you that children in our Lambton Kent district routinely disrespect teachers and principals, without consequences? That kids in your child’s schools have threatened or actually committed violent acts against fellow students or teachers? And in many cases, if not most cases, these same kids are back in class to do it again?
If you were to say “that’s crazy” I’d say you were right. Welcome to schools in Lambton County.
The heartbreaking school shooting in Connecticut just before Christmas brought an outpouring of grief, support, and dismay from Canadians and Americans alike. In the days that followed, many people were left doing a little soul searching, and although some social media comments showed that a few Canadian parents felt it was strictly an “American” problem that couldn’t happen here, other parents worried about what should be done to prevent something like that from ever happening here.
Even Dalton McGuinty announced $10 million to start locking doors in schools. (a good idea in the short run, by the way)
The tragedy was massive, and it was shocking. And it moved me to do some “unofficial” research. Over the Christmas holidays I talked to school kids, other parents, and a few teachers. All off the record, and all without mentioning names. I wanted it to be accurate, but I wasn’t looking to get anyone fired.
The results are shocking. Maybe I’m still paranoid after Connecticut, but the comments I heard were stunning, and exposed a very broken school system that authorities apparently have no clue how to fix, and parents that are asleep and unaware of what is really going on. Could Connecticut ever happen here? Our school system is heading towards it at 100 km/h.
I prank you not.
So I started by asking about bad kids, violence, punishments, etc. The kids I talked to first told me almost universally that the really bad kids get treated differently. How exactly? The worse behaved they are, the less they are punished, was the reply. Apparently it is more of a policy of appeasement, almost as if our School Board has the attitude that we need to keep bad kids in school at all costs.
I was told about good kids being punished for calling someone a name for example, but bad kids telling the principal to F- off, and not even getting a detention.
That couldn’t be true, after all this isn’t south central LA. We don’t have schools like that in our town do we?
Subsequent chats with other kids confirmed the insanity. Now not all the kids witnessed such abuses, but several stories from more than one school were repeated about “bad kids” swearing at teachers or principals, or hitting other students, taking lunch items, etc. and getting no visible punishments.
In fact, according to one student, one such “bad kid” was simply permitted to wander the school or sit in the lobby whenever he became bored with the class. Any attempts at discipline apparently had been abandoned. Meanwhile, “good kids” who talked to each other in class were verbally disciplined, or in the case of being too vigorous outside at recess, given indoor detentions in the hallway.
The fact is, every one of the kids I talked to knew and understood: “good kids” get punished, “bad kids” get away with it.
I was shocked to say the least.
Now these are kids, and I’m sure they’re too young and imaginative to have gotten this info correct, so I ran it past a few parents and teachers—who not only confirmed everything but added to it.
One teacher told me of trying to send bad kids to the office. They don’t bother trying to anymore. Even if the kid goes, he/she is back in 5 minutes with no changes in attitude.
Another teacher calls home to talk to the parents of a “bad kid” only to get yelled at by the parents for calling. This has happened many, many times over the course of her career she said. With no support at home, and no discipline at school, what is she supposed to do? Even scarier, what has that student learned? He’s learned he’s untouchable: there are no consequences for his actions.
Swearing at a teacher is common place in some schools. There is no real punishment for it anymore.
Worse was a teacher who told me of a student who threatened to ring the neck of another teacher—and was never even suspended or disciplined!
Kids have threatened violence to teachers, or their cars, etc and in the cases where they were actually punished, they almost always end up right back in the same teacher’s class!
Does no one else find this completely insane? Does this not sound like the recipe for a school disaster?
Kids are being taught no respect for authority, and in fact they are being openly taught that they can disrespect their principal and teacher with no consequences whatsoever!
Is it so shocking to think that a kid who has done whatever he has wanted for the past couple of years, has no respect for his teacher or principal, tells them to F-off whenever he wants, with no repercussions whatever . . . is it such a stretch to see that kid come back one day with a gun and kill a bunch of people he was no respect for?
To say this is madness would be an understatement of the highest order.
We are at the very least creating a whole generation of bad kids who learn they are above the law, and at the same time teaching good kids that there are two classes in life, and the good kids will be the ones who are punished for the slightest mistakes.
How is it possible that no one in the school administration system knows about this? Or if they know, how come no one is taking any action?
It’s alarmingly clear we need discipline in our schools immediately. Oh wait, the good kids are already being disciplined, it’s just the bad kids and the severe behaviour that seems to be exempt.
Kids need to realize there are consequences for behaviour, and any swearing or violent behaviour is not allowed at school. Our schools are not for babysitting, nor are they a place to hang out because there is nowhere else to go. Schools are for learning. It’s a privilege to go to school, and if you don’t like and can’t be good, you’re gone.
It’s time to suspend kids freely when it’s warranted. Send them home and let their parents take care of them.
And if you threaten a teacher or the principal, then it's expulsion and a visit with the police. Kids who threaten the principal or teacher should never go back to that school, and especially not that same teacher’s class.
It’s not rocket science!!
It’s time we took a stand before something tragic happens here in our own backyard. It’s time we stood on the side of the good kids, and stood on the side of raising our kids up right, not sacrificing our children in the name of catering to the worse school offenders. I for one will not jeopardize the safety of my children or their teacher in the name of some idiotic left wing dogma that doesn’t believe in discipline.
If everyone would call their school board and demand a few answers we could actually change things around quite quickly. Or we can just wait until the situation self-destructs and we find our school on the news one night.
Any teachers or school staff who have a story to add to the above, I would love to hear from you. All emails will be kept confidential. email@example.com