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Friday, October 7, 2011

Taking Aim

I contemplate our need to arm our children so that when they enter our school buildings they feel safe. I am not, certainly, talking about children armed with guns and knives.  No. I am talking about other types of weapons; an arsenal to be replenished every day before school.

 It’s as if we, the adults--parents and school employees--have given up. 

It’s as if we’ve given up on ever being able to keep our schools truly safe. 
It’s as if we are saying as we drop off our children at schools’ front doors, “Hey buddy boy, be safe.  It’s a war zone in there.”  

 It’s as if we are murmuring to ourselves, as we plant kisses on foreheads of children slamming car doors shut, “So sorry my loves, there is nothing we can do.  You'll have to fend for yourselves.” 

We who work in schools might cry, “Watch out!” as children flood into the cafeteria, “it’s a mine field in here.”  

We might yell out a warning--“Don’t go into that bathroom! It’s set to go off soon.” 

It’s as if we, the adults working at schools and patrolling school hallways, are simply giving up. 

And so, instead of arming our schools with tolerance, patience, kindness and courage, we arm our children with coping skills and karate lessons. 
Instead of doing the real work of bullying prevention ourselves, we require our children to do it for us.  

We arm our children with strong muscles, planted feet and assertive eye contact.  Karate studios offer bullying prevention seminars focused on teaching children karate skills so that they can effectively confront a bully. That’s what it has come to. 

Schools can be such brutal places--places of constant torment for some.  The awkward boy who is a special needs student, for example, mainstreamed with the general population for two periods.  He’s loud.  He can be annoying.  He wants to be accepted.  He’s not.  Instead, he’s used as a target for missiles of paper wads and rubber bands.  Karate probably wouldn’t work for him. 

We arm our children with coping skills and positive self talk and fogging techniques.  We expect an overweight child, for instance, when a bully yells--over and over again-- “Hey piggy!  Oink!  Oink!” to respond with something like this, “Yes.  I am overweight.”  That’s fogging. Put a little truth out there to cover the hurt.  We expect that child to respond to that cruelty that way over and over again. 

How about girls and boys derisively blasted, routinely, about their sexuality--or the perception of it?  “Homo!  Faggot!  Lesbo!  That’s hurtful stuff.  What coping skills will make them resilient: will make that pain slide off the ducks’ backs? 

But folks, that’s pretty much all we have right now.

 So—Parents.  Principals.  Teachers. 

All together now!

Hey kids!  Don’t forget your foggers!  Get your coping skills ready and loaded!

Make eye contact, plant your feet firmly and fire your best shot. 

We may or may not have your back. 

Next up, I really am going to begin to tell my story. It’s coming.  I’m going to fire my best shot. 

 I hope you got my back.

5:57 pm edt          Comments

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