Where’s the Respect

Where’s the Respect?!

By: Dr. Connie Franklin

Yes ma’am. Yes sir No ma’am. No sir. Respect for teachers and administrators. It seems as if those days are in the past. The fabric of many school environments is severely tattered and torn. It appears that the days of respect for adults and children knowing their place have escaped us. While there are countless students who are wonderful examples of appropriate behavior, unfortunately, they are often overshadowed by those exhibiting disruptive, and often disturbing behavior. The question is not what has happened to our schools, but what has happened to our children? Over the course of the last decade, there has been an uptick of violent student behavior towards both school officials, and surprisingly, their own parents. As the publicity increases, so do the number of incidents. Respect has transformed into an unrecognizable figure. Students often make the claim “he/she disrespected me,” when referring to teachers or other school officials, which is often the catalyst for unruly or unacceptable behavior.

Turning on the news or logging onto social media sites, it is not uncommon to hear stories or see a video of students attacking teachers. Unbeknownst to the public, these incidents are a mere glimpse into what occurs in many classrooms across the country. The level of respect for individuals in authority in the
schoolhouse has diminished significantly. We live in a society where the desire for and the successful acquisition of immediate gratification is commonplace. Schools are a microcosm of society, the good, the bad, and the ugly. If it’s happening in the world, it’s also occurring in a school building near you.Many of today’s students have the mindset that they should be able to do what they want, when they want, with no consequences. May the force be with you should you challenge that belief or worse…serve as a barrier to those wants.

The education environment is compromised when instruction time is interrupted because teachers are redirecting disruptive students. While kids will be kids and occasional redirection is normal, what is not normal is the direction which some classroom situations turn. There was a time when “talking back” to a school official was a no-no and using profanity towards them was utterly unheard of. There are teachers across this country who has been verbally accosted by students with and without extremely “colorful”language because they either refused to allow them to do something or because they redirected them for something that was causing a problem. A teacher in Memphis, TN in May of 2016 was on the receiving end of a student’s reaction of not getting his way. The 16-year old attacked the teacher from behind because he was told that he could not leave the classroom. In August, a teacher was slammed to the ground in a New Jersey school for confiscating his ninth grade student’s cell phone. These incidents are not limited to classroom teachers. A principal in New York was recently punched by a student because the student was told to turn the volume down on his headphones.

In the midst of situations like these, as well as others that may not be as extreme, in many instances, teachers are looked upon unfavorably. The act of self-defense is often scrutinized. The vast majority of educators are in the profession because they love children, they do not want to ever become physical with a student. Teachers are people, they have families, and they too want to return home at the end of the workday the same way they left home in the morning. The berating of teachers who are victimized because they have attempted to defend themselves will add to the increasing schoolhouse flight by
educators. Teachers must be supported when it comes to providing an environment that is conducive to learning. That means removing students from the classroom who are a constant disruption and finding placements more appropriate for the needs of students who display potential violent tendencies. A student who curses his/her teacher today should not be back in that teacher’s classroom tomorrow.There must be consequences for their actions. A stronger collaboration must be forged between schools and parents to wrangle in this problem that appears to be getting worse.

Our children need us, they need mentors, and they need individuals to step in for parents who need help. Our children need adults who can provide the level of guidance that will show them the difference between behavior appropriate for real life and acceptable for television. Our children need educating and even more so, they need parenting.

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