Friday, April 21, 2006

Police in schools prepare kids for weenie world

When I was in school, petty misbehavior on-campus might get you a few swats on the ass - if you were in gym when it happened maybe you ran extra laps or were required to do volumes of push ups. For more serious transgressions like fights or minor theft, kids might get suspended for several days or, rarely, expelled.

Pero no mas. Today when kids misbehave, schools call the cops. Dallas-area police responded to more than 5,000 calls on high school campuses last year, reported the Dallas News ("
Police taking a bigger role in school incidents," April 21). The trend toward criminalizing misbehavior in school goes beyond fistfights to low-level juvenalia like using profanity or smoking in the bathroom. Bottom line:
Much of the responsibility for discipline has shifted from the principal's office to the patrol car. Recent events in local schools reflect the trend.

As of late: A hair-pulling, scratching fight in McKinney left 13 girls facing charges for "inciting a riot." In Irving, swearing in class sparked a $260 ticket. Richardson police were called for teens smoking and disturbing class.

Texas Education Agency officials say they are receiving more complaints from parents about police actions against their students than ever before.

"We hold children to higher standards than we hold adults," said Billy Jacobs, senior director of the safe schools division of the TEA. "We don't leave any room for children to make mistakes."

Officials say this trend reacts to the Columbine shootings, but it's counterproductive and sends the wrong message to kids. Teaching that they should go to the police even for minor squabbles is like sending every kid to the emergency room whenever they have the sniffles - the symptoms could be handled with over the counter cold medication, and it wastes the hospital's time and resources. Similarly, calling the cops when a student curses in class or bloodies another's nose in a towel fight (an example in the article) not only wastes officers' time -- it also prepares kids to live in a weenie-world where nobody takes responsibility for their own behavior without some authority figure standing over them.

In an already immature era, infantilizing youth has consequences outside the school. Kids need to be allowed to grow up.

Just as odious, we're infantilizing adults in schools, too - kids need teachers and principals to act like authority figures, not pathetic wimps who call a police officer whenever they need to admonish some brat for swearing. If adults in schools were empowered to act like adults, they wouldn't need to call the cops whenever kids act like kids.


Anonymous said...

The reason the police are called is because of school liability. If we could get rid of the ridiculous law suits, the schools could again reasonably discipline the kids. We need lawsuit reform in the worst way. A parent can't even swat their child when they throw a fit in public for fear of having CPS called on them, their children put in foster homes, and charges brought against them. No wonder the younger generation has no respect for anyone or anything.

Anonymous said...

At the end of the article was this quote: "When I was in high school, I got my butt busted by a teacher in the hallway if I screwed up," said Katy ISD police Lt. Keith Meier, who just got permission from the state to start training school police officers. "Nowadays the parents are so quick to say my child does no wrong."

Well of course parents respond that way - by bringing in the cops you've made the consequences for their kid a lot more serious. When admitting petty behavior gets you detention or a suspension, that's one thing. A criminal charge is another. I'd tell my kid to take his licks when the principal gave them, if that's how they still did things. But if police want to charge him with a crime I'd tell him straight: plead not guilty, shut up, and make them prove it.

- LawyerDad