If you spend 5 minutes near a playground, a mall, or any of the other locations where grade school and high school kids congregate you will see the full scale epidemic of bad behavior and disrespect being displayed our nation’s youth. In many instances kids unfortunately aren’t being taught morals, decency, and respect at home and that is a huge problem that hurts our country. When the parents of the kids fail (and there is no defense for this) sometimes our schools are the only place where kids may be able to learn the valuable lessons we all need. I often feel that our nation’s public school system is lacking in many areas but I have a suggestion that will be beneficial for everyone.
I am a product of the public school system and I can honestly say that the number of good teachers I encountered can be counted on one hand. Some teachers bleed passion in the classroom, some don’t really care, and many that do care aren’t given the proper resources to fully teach our youth accordingly. I myself learned more on the outside of the classroom than in the inside of the classroom throughout the course of my life but I can say that there were some valuable lessons taught by grade school programs such as the D.A.R.E. program (Drug Abuse Resistance Education). My introduction to D.A.R.E. had me hooked: We were in 6th Grade when introduced to the program, two local police officers came into our classroom once a week, discussed drug issues plaguing our community, and offered solutions on how to stay clear of the disastrous road drugs lead us all down and taught us the consequences…….CONSEQUENCES….this word is very important, I’ll come back to it later. The class was very interactive, there were awards for participation, but for some reason I think that I was fully hooked because fully kitted up officers were discussing from experience what they saw and why I should stay away from drugs and the respect they commanded stuck with me. The officers were very focused, very strict, and very detailed in their teachings and many of the students were scared being around them in the classroom but after their weekly lessons were over the officers would stick around after class, show us their tools of the trade, and let us look in the police cars. These officers teaching the course commanded respect in the classroom but let their guard down afterward and treated us like humans and were as patient as could be with 60 kids trying to jump into their cars and hit the sirens. The class taught me very valuable lessons I keep with me to this day and I can honestly say that I have never once taken a drug of any sort.
Keeping in this theme of teaching the children skills of life I think we are missing something in our schools. I think the entire nation would benefit, both urban and rural communities, from mandatory courses in the grade schools that focus on CONFLICT RESOLUTION. How many times do kids get angry/upset and rather than cooling off, calming down, or simply walking away they continue to escalate, escalate, escalate? How often do kids bump into one another while walking past each other and rather than a simple “my bad” or “I’m sorry” do we see the first reaction be a loud verbal encounter to take place, followed up by a violent outburst that may result in a gun being pulled and one person being killed and the other getting thrown in jail? More often than not kids have 0 concept on how to defuse a situation and their first instinct is what most people would call a tremendous overreaction, one that can possibly ruin their life or get them killed. Nobody should die because someone accidentally bumped into a shoulder or “mean mugged” someone. If you watch “Maury” for a few minutes you will see the behavior I’m talking about. The guests on these shows yell at one another, try attacking one another, and overreact at pretty much everything and this behavior is very visible on our streets. There is an epidemic of bad behavior in our communities and kids being taught how to deal with conflict properly would save scores and scores of lives and also allow for lots of kids to walk away from something or defuse a situation before it ruins their life or gets them or someone else killed.
Too often kids learn from the streets and the streets teach them that you can’t be a “punk” or a “bitch” and that you have to “handle your business”. The problems of the streets create consequences and kids don’t fully grasp that there are serious consequences for being out of control. If a high school kid gets into a conflict and ends up shooting/killing someone the stage has already been set for the downward spiral. The person that was shot will come back for revenge if they live, if they don’t survive surely their friends will come for revenge. All of this doesn’t go unnoticed by law enforcement officials so now they also have to worry about being arrested and jailed. The cemetery and the penitentiary are where all of these roads lead. Children don’t understand how to deescalate and a simple addition to the school curriculum of a de-escalation program can teach this valuable life skill to so many kids whose lives depend on it.