Category Archives: School

Does the Punishment Fit the Crime?

I have to admit I was highly amused at this letter from a teacher who has a creative use for me in detention.  School may be out, but maybe this will be an inspiration for other teachers when they return in the fall!

Hello Doc!  I am a middle school teacher in [the Southwest], and I stream your show and often listen before school, during lunch breaks and after school (it truly calms me down).  When I would give a kid after-school detention, I would always still have your show on, playing it just loud enough for them to hear, hoping they would learn something extra (but always fast-forwarding to the next call if it was a sexual or adult-type of question).

There were always repeat visitors to detention, and they would always moan and groan about having to listen to the show at the beginning, but as these kids started listening and enjoying the show, it was amazing how they would police each other into being quiet so that they could hear or not be distracted from listening to it!  Until one day….

A girl was being, let’s just say…an eighth-grader, and I warned her about her punishment of detention.  Her reply was “Good!  I wanted to know if that lady did what Dr. Laura told her to do and if it worked.”  I guess previously you had given a caller an assignment and they were supposed to call back.  I couldn’t help but laugh.  The student still got detention, but everybody that day was punished because I didn’t turn on your broadcast!  Thanks for the show!

Marc

Principal Says NO to Social Networks for Kids

I am very happy to tell you about my hero, Anthony Orsini, the principal at Benjamin Franklin Middle School in Ridgewood, New Jersey.  He recently sent the following email to all parents of children attending his school:

Dear BF Community:
When I arrived in Ridgewood, Facebook did not exist, YouTube did not exist, and MySpace was barely in existence.  Formspring (one of the newest Internet scourges, a site meant simply to post cruel things about people anonymously) wasn’t even in someone’s mind.

In 2010, social networking sites have now become commonplace, and technology use by students is beyond prevalent.

It is time for every single member of the BF community to take a stand!

There is absolutely no reason for any middle school student to be a part of a social networking site!

Let me repeat that – there is absolutely, positively no reason for any middle school student to be a part of a social networking site!  None.

5 of the last 8 parents who we have informed that their child was posting inappropriate things on Facebook said their child did not have an account.  Every single one of the students had an account.

3 students yesterday told a guidance counselor that their parents told them to close their accounts when the parents learned they had an account.  All three students told their parents it was closed.  All three students still had an account after telling their parents it was closed.

Most students are part of more than one social networking site.

Please do the following:  sit down with your child (and they are just children still) and tell them that they are not allowed to be a member of any social networking site.  Today!

Let them know that you will at some point every week be checking their text messages online!   You have the ability to do this through your cell phone provider.

Let them know that you will be installing Parental Control software so you can tell every place they have visited online, and everything they have instant messaged or written to a friend.  Don’t install it behind their back, but install it!

Over 90% of homework does not require the Internet, or even a computer.  Do not allow them to have a computer in their room.  There is no need.

Know that they can text others even if their phone doesn’t have texting capability, either through the computer or through their iPod Touch.

Have a central “docking system,” preferably in your bedroom, where all electronics in the home get charged each night, especially anything with a cell or with wi-fi capability (remember when you were in high school and you would sneak the phone into your bedroom at Midnight to talk to your girlfriend or boyfriend all night – now imagine what they can do with the technology in their rooms).

If your son or daughter is attacked through one of these sites or through texting, immediately go to the police!  Insist that they investigate every situation.  Also, contact the site and report the attack to the site – they have an obligation to suspend accounts, or they are liable for what is written.

We as a school can offer guidance and try to build up any student who has been injured by the social networking scourge, but please insist the authorities get involved.

For online gaming, do not allow them to have the interactive communication devices.  If they want to play Call of Duty online with someone from Seattle, fine.  They don’t need to talk to the person.

The threat to your son or daughter from online adult predators is insignificant compared to the damage that children at this age constantly and repeatedly do to one another through social networking sites or through text and picture messaging.

It is not hyperbole for me to write that the pain caused by social networking sites is beyond significant.  It is psychologically detrimental and we will find out it will have significant long-term effects, as well as all the horrible social effects it already creates.

I will be more than happy to take the blame off you as a parent if it is too difficult to have the students close their accounts, but it is time they all get closed and the texts always get checked.

I want to be clear – this email is not anti-technology, and we will continue to teach responsible technology practices to students.  They are simply not psychologically ready for the damage that one mean person online can cause, and I don’t want any of our students to go through the unnecessary pain that too many of them have already experienced.

Some people advocate that the parents and the school should teach responsible social networking to students because these sites are part of the world in which we live.

I disagree.  It is not worth the risk to your child to allow them the independence at this age to manage these sites on their own, not because they are not good kids or responsible, but because you cannot control the poor actions of anonymous others.

Learn as a family about cyber safety together at www.wiredsafety.org for your own knowledge.  It is a great site.  But then do everything I asked in this email – because there really is no reason a child needs to have one of these accounts.

Please take action in your own home today.

Sincerely,

Anthony Orsini
Principal, BFMS

Now Principal Orsini is MY kind of principal, and my kind of leader in the community.  This should go nationwide. 

The sites have become a tool for children to do psychological harm to each other; it has become a menace to children.  Much of what guidance counselors have to deal with these days regards social networking issues.  It is time for you parents to ACT.

Tempest in A Teapot

An Oregon middle school teacher has publicly denounced the Tea Partiers – a grassroots political organization which opposes many of President Obama’s health and financial concepts and actions – as “a loose affiliation of racists, homophobes and morons” among more offensive names.

The school district placed him on leave, pending the conclusion of an investigation by the school district into whether he used school hours or computers to work on his anti-Tea Party website, and if his political activity was appropriate behavior for a teacher of middle school students.

The teacher had announced his intention to embarrass Tea Partiers by attending their rallies dressed as Adolf Hitler, carrying signs bearing racist, sexist, and anti-gay epithets, and acting as offensively as possible, according to FoxNews.com.

The Oregon Tea Party organization is quoted as saying that the teacher doesn’t need to lose his job.  He just needs to have sensitivity and anger management training.

I think they’re just being politically correct.  He should be fired for sure.

He has the responsibility of teaching and role-modeling the proper behavior for a citizen in a democracy.  Attempting to embarrass and destroy an opposing point of view is not part of the democratic process, in spite of the fact that it seems like the main means of discourse in our society at present.  And it has to stop   somewhere.

He could have had his students do a project, learning about the positions of the Tea Party movement, and to critique them, with pros and cons as they see them (in spite of the fact that most kids their age pretty much just parrot what they learn at home).  Nonetheless, debates and critical essays are what he should be teaching, not “search and destroy.”

I hope he is fired ASAP.   Let that be a lesson!

What’s The Matter With Kids Today?

What’s the problem with kids today?  The answer to that is easy:  THEIR PARENTS!

According to the Fresno Bee, five high school seniors cut down two trees on their campus as a “senior prank.”  School officials expelled the students and transferred them to a continuation school to finish out their senior year.

The students (all seniors and football players) cut down two Southern Live Oak trees, with ten-inch trunks.  The trees were about 14 years old and nearly 20 feet high.  The damage was estimated to be between $7,500 and $14,000.  The boys said this was a prank meant to deprive junior classmates of shade.

Stupid, stupid, stupid…..but they are all “jock heroes,” probably way too used to inflated estimations of their own value and power.

The school did exactly the right thing.

The parents did exactly the wrong thing.  They said that the school “overreacted,” and they got attorneys involved to get their kids back in the school.  The school is standing firm.  Good for them.

“To hire attorneys,” as one of my listeners wrote to me, “teaches these kids that they can get away with ‘pranks’ and that they do not have to respect the law or be accountable for such behavior to school officials.  It will be interesting to see how these youngsters turn out as they mature.  Will they be good citizens?  Will they raise their children similarly to how they were raised?  Will their views change on how their own parents handled this life lesson?  It remains to be seen.  I do hope our community doesn’t read about them again later on down the line after they’ve robbed a store or beaten someone up and again hired an attorney to defend their actions.”

That point, in particular, is why (when people call and tell me that they have “x” number of “beautiful” children) I tell them I don’t care if they have pretty or ugly kids.  I only care that they have decent kids, because the well being of all of us depends on that.

Bullies Depend on Your Cowardice

On Monday, I wrote about the event in Massachusetts that you’ve all heard about by now.  Several South Hadley, Massachusetts high school students are being tried on felony charges for the harassment of a high school freshman which led to her suicide.  It was worse than harassment – it was persecution, both physical and mental, and in the full view of other students and teachers.  No one did anything to stop them, not even fellow students.  Disgusting, really.

What I want you parents to do is to teach your children to stand between evil and the innocent, even if they risk being ostracized or worse.  It is only when people stop just standing by that evil will be squelched. 

My son came home from middle school one day to say he was in trouble because he was in a fight.  I asked what happened.  He told me that some kid was picking on another kid and it got physical.  I asked him what happened then?  He said that he got into it with the bully.  I asked him who won.  He looked down at his shoes and muttered “I did.”

I gave him high fives, made his favorite dinner, and sent my husband in to the school the next day to make it clear to the principal that we expected the bully (and not our son) to be punished.  I sent my husband, because he is more laid back than I (if you get my drift).

We can have a million court cases and school suspensions.  But it is only when parents teach their children to intervene that these bullies will be brought to their knees.  They count on the cowardice of your children for their freedom to torment.  Tell your children to band together if necessary and do the right thing.

Spoiled Brats Are the New Bullies

There is a precedent-setting action being taken by the District Attorney in South Hadley, Massachusetts.  A high school freshman, Phoebe Prince, new in town from Ireland, was harassed by a pack of older teens.  This was school bullying taken to the extreme:  she was subject to threats and physical abuse, and unfortunately, this young girl hanged herself when she could no longer tolerate the terror.

Criminal charges ranging from statutory rape to stalking and civil rights violations have been filed against the teenagers (two boys and four girls).

Unfortunately, the criminal charges stop there.  I would add that teachers, the principal and the administration should be subject to criminal charges as well or a civil lawsuit, because the bullying was common knowledge for months, and the girl’s mother twice complained to school staffers.  Some bullying was even witnessed by teachers.  It’s time to rise up and counter this vicious free-for-all going on in our schools.

Where do the kids get the gall to do this?  From everything around them! 

Watch “reality” television.  It’s all about being mean and out of control.  Even American Idol has so-called “judges” who insult people on national television.  Watch music videos and listen to mean/hostile lyrics with out-of-control sexually aggressive scenes.  What happened to the heartsick love songs of the 1950s?

Watch television or listen to most radio with people shouting angrily at each other, accusing each other of racism and such simply for having a different opinion or point of view.  Dominating people by humiliation is what we do for entertainment in our society.  “Lord of the Flies”-type behavior from our children should not be a surprise.  What is a surprise is that adults and parents stand by, afraid of their own children and handcuffed by political correctness, where vile behavior now becomes protected speech. 

That whole town of South Hadley, Massachusetts should be ashamed.  Phoebe’s parents should have taken her out of that school the same way I tell parents in step-families to leave with their children when the spouse or the spouse’s children become abusive.  The school should have thrown those brats out on their ears, worrying later about whether or not their parents would sue.

If you’re thinking “Well, no one could know that she would kill herself,” you should know that according to one source, “one of the girls posted on Phoebe’s Facebook page right after her suicide:  ‘Accomplished.’”

They tormented her to death on purpose.

This is our next generation?

Columbine Almost Revisited

Remember Columbine?  Two Nazi-loving narcissistic sociopaths murdered teachers and students in their school because it would put them in the spotlight of history…..forever.

No one stepped forward to stop them.

The police stayed outside the building.

Horrendous mishandling caused many innocent lives to be lost.

Fast forward 11 years.
Another wacked-out gunman with a bolt-action hunting rifle came onto a Colorado middle school parking lot and starting shooting at students.  He had just wounded two students and seemed ready to massacre more when a tall, skinny teacher (6’5″ former college basketball player who oversees the school’s track team) decided that this massacre just wasn’t going to happen.  He saw the bad guy who was about to reload the chamber and decided that was THE moment.  He ran and tackled the shooter, wrapped his arms and legs around him like a strait jacket from head to toe, and held him for police.  Another teacher came to help keep the creep on the ground. 

The two wounded students were hospitalized; one was released and the other was listed in critical condition.

The teacher’s name?  DAVID BENKE.

By the way, the system allowed the gunman to be walking among us.  The bad guy, Bruco Eastwood, has an arrest record in Colorado dating back to 1996 for menacing, assault, domestic violence and driving under the influence.  That’s some arrest record – the newspaper account I read did not mention prison time where children would be safe from him.

When interviewed, the father of the creep said: “There’s nothing you can say about it.  What can you say?  Pretty dumb thing to do.  I feel bad for the people involved.”

Dumb??  When you’re talking about attempting to murder children?

As for Benke, he still wishes he could have done more:  “It bugs me that he got another round off” before being taken down.

I am all for a trained and armed faculty member or security person on the grounds of every school in America.  Self-defense is a primary right of every living creature.

My respect goes to Mr. Benke.  I admire guts, grit, and the compassion to risk to protect the lives of others, especially children.

The community should set up a trust account for him so that when he retires, he will be taken care of for the rest of his life.  That’s a small thing for saving the lives of so many children, don’t you think?