Kindergarten Cops: Should Children Go To Jail For Throwing Blocks?
Do you remember your first day of school? Mine was kind of scary, but as soon as I saw all those cool toys in the classroom I settled in for the long haul. Most of my memories from those days are good ones and although they get a bit fuzzier as the years roll by, I am pretty sure that I never got handcuffed, arrested or hauled off to jail. I might have gotten a bit feisty when it was time to take our naps, but the most I ever got for that was a stern look from the teacher. The same cannot be said of a six year old Georgia girl.
In yet another case of schools that have fallen victim to political correctness and a general inability to figure out touchy-feely ways to discipline their students, the police were called because of a Kindergarten Kid gone wild. The child was throwing stuff, ripping things off the walls and acting out. The last draw was when she was taken to the school's office, knocked over a piece of furniture and injured the Principal. Without the benefit of having Dr Phil's email address or the phone number for an accredited exorcist, the school called the cops.
Law Enforcement Officers arrived on the scene, handcuffed the girl and took her to the Milledgeville Police headquarters. With the alleged maniac child safely in custody, I am sure that the public and everyone at the school breathed a sigh of relief after all that "violent and disruptive behavior." Violent and disruptive? I went to school in New York where teachers were routinely thrown out of windows and students had daily rumbles in the hallways.
Now I can understand exactly why that school called the Police. After all, trained law enforcement officers know how to handle almost every situation involving criminal behavior. It's what they are trained to do. They handled this one by giving a child that was already hyper and going crazy on everybody a nice cold can of soda. With the equivalent of sixteen tablespoons of sugar in every can, I'm sure that settled her down nicely.
Now I want to be fair. Schools face challenges today that can be daunting and difficult to handle. For example, a five year old boy recently brought fifty packets of heroin to a Connecticut school for Show and Tell. Another five year old boy in Florida brought a loaded gun to school for Show and Tell. What are the choices for school authorities when incidents like those happen? When I was a child lots of kids brought heroin and guns to school, but not for Show and Tell.
The problem is that many schools have adopted Zero Tolerance policies. These make almost anything a student does that might seem inappropriate to somebody an offense punishable by suspension or expulsion. An eighth grade boy who got into an altercation with a classmate in the hallway at a North Carolina school was rescued from the melee by a teacher. When he tried to hug the educator to show his appreciation, he was hauled off to the office and suspended for breaking the school's zero tolerance policy on hugging. The same thing happened in Palm Bay, Florida, where a fourteen year old boy was suspended for hugging his best friend.
I think it's time to inject a little common sense back into our schools. There was a day when teachers and administrators could handle just about anything and everything that happened in school. It wasn't about creating a 'one size fits all' policy to handle every infraction or incident of misconduct. It was about keeping order and creating an environment where kids that wanted to learn could do so.
Children do not attend school for social engineering based on whatever politically-correct whim happens to be popular at that moment, they go there to learn. It's one thing to teach kids manners and expect them to interact with each other peacefully and in a respectful manner. It's another to try to create a completely 'hand's off' policy that allows virtually no physical contact between people. That's unnatural and has the same affect as trying to legislate morality: It doesn't work.
Local law enforcement officers are under increasing pressure to help keep order in schools and provide security to prevent anyone that shows up to do harm from succeeding. This is unfair to them and the community at large. School security officers can easily be hired and trained to do the same job at a lower cost allowing local police to stay out in their communities where they are needed to prevent crime, enforce the law and keep order.
Parents are also to blame for this mess. Many have allowed schools to become daytime baby sitters for their kids and ceded their parental authority over to teachers and school staff members. They just do not want to be bothered dealing with problems that their kids might create at school and are clueless when it comes to discipline. These are the same nice folks that bring us kids gone wild in stores, restaurants and on buses, trains and airplanes.
Let's try some practical solutions. Parents discipline and teachers teach. Kids that come to school to cause trouble get kicked out, but not for something stupid like hugging, hand holding or throwing blocks around in their kindergarten class. Personally, I think the police should only be called for emergency situations and nothing else. Every time a teacher gives a failing grade, the restrooms run out of t.p. or lunch tastes like someone's shoe, it's time to contact Five-O. Book 'em, Danno!