An 18 year old was charged with a fatal shooting in Arlington.
Another teen 16 was part of a gang that murdered a man over a drug deal and stuffed his body in the trunk of a car.
Three teens, ages 15, 16 and 17 recently killed a man for three dollars.
This on the heels of last springs killing of pizza delivery woman Sarah Hotham being murdered by three teens age 18, 17 and 15.
When I read these tragic headlines about teenage murderers I can’t help but think, after I stop shaking my head in disgust, how were these kids in school? My guess is they weren’t the best and some undoubtedly were the worse. That and after a moment of reflection, that I also wouldn’t be surprised if their school experience led at least one of them if not more down the tragic and disastrous paths they took.
Schools are often a place where you meet your best friends at, the ones you go to the movies with, to the mall with and sadly these days where some children decide to kill with.
When schools don’t give children consequences for their behavior they learn however they act is acceptable and believe you me this is a lesson they will keep a lot longer than how to break down a sentence or how to do a quadratic equation. When other children see those students receiving no real consequences they learn that bad behavior is acceptable as well. This causes many to start, repeat or imitate bad behavior. Schools in effect are teaching numerous kids, even kids from decent homes with involved parents that bad behavior is okay. It’s an unfortunate fact but when schools ignore bad behavior they accept and teach it.
Many kids no longer look up to their teachers. We’re not the role models we were a generation ago. Now they look up to the kid who is always in trouble and I use the word trouble loosely. They are the cool ones to followed and revered and teachers are green or worse for not understanding why. It’s the norm to talk back, question and argue with adults, to curse in class or to dress however they want.
Students look up to those kids who always seem to get away with whatever they do or are unfazed by punishments. I have had kids come back from jail and captivate their peers with their stories. Jail sounds fun, are actual words I have heard from some students.
Teachers at many schools now days either accept a lot of bad behavior or just look the other way and hope for the best. There are so many battles we choose not to fight because there is usually a bigger battle coming or because we don’t get any back up when we decide to make a stand. What have you done we are asked or quizzed to prevent the bad behavior, almost as if kids aren’t supposed to know cursing, threatening, arguing, yelling, not doing their work or sleeping in class is okay to do.
Did you stop class and call the parents? What are you doing wrong? The student said this, what do you have to say about that? Are things I and others have heard from administrators. Though what I have heard from students is worse.
Besides expletive riddled tirades I have also heard, you’re the one who’s going to get in trouble if you write me up or nothings going to happen me or good I don’t want to be here anyways. These are all common responses from students to warnings that if their behavior doesn’t improve their presence will no longer be allowed. The inmates are practically running the asylum
I think I must have led my school in referrals last year writing about fifty but I could have written a thousand. Of the fifty referrals I wrote and like I said I wrote a lot more than most teachers, I would guess at least a third were ignored by the administration as I never received a copy of them back and of the rest for the most part their punishment was to finish the period in ISSP. I know teachers who have stopped writing referrals whose only defence is to accept or hope kids sleep in their class or are absent. There is a whole segment of students where for them doing work, being respectful or paying attention is optional.
I don’t know how schools fix families or neighborhoods. I don’t know how schools are supposed to make children who weren’t raised with a sense of whats right and wrong develop one but at the same time with all my heart I believe that schools must give children a snap shot of how life should work. They must say if you work hard you will be rewarded but if you act up there will be consequences and remember for a consequence to work it must be meaningful, it must make sure the child does not want to repeat the behavior. If it doesn’t do that it’s just an inconvenience and I believe an inconvenience that can lead to worse behavior, and in some extreme instances maybe even murder.
Education arguably plays a role in every facet of our city and when I read the headlines form above I become very concerned for Jacksonville. These kids should be trying out for football or preparing for prom but instead they are out committing murders. I am not calling for extreme measures. I am not saying lets blow up the system. All I am saying if we want things to improve lets do at least the minimum of what we are supposed to.
Could we have saved one of those kids above? Could we have saved one of their victims had we done just what we’re supposed to be doing? Worse however is how many more kids are we going to loose and how many others are going to loose their lives if we continue to do things the way we are? You don’t need to answer that last question, I am sure if nothing changes the headlines of the future will let us know.