Thursday, July 10, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Angry at school policies

I know Dr. Dan is supposed to be compassionate and understanding. And he is not supposed to be reactive without feeling empathy for both sides of the conflict. But today Dr. Dan is taking the day off and his angry, reactive alter ego will be making today's entry.

Angry at school policies

I know Dr. Dan is supposed to be compassionate and understanding. And he is not supposed to be reactive without feeling empathy for both sides of the conflict. But today Dr. Dan is taking the day off and his angry, reactive alter ego will be making today's entry.

A friend of mine told me that he and his 10-year-old son were taking a walk in the woods the other day when they found a hunting arrow in a tree. The boy thought this was pretty cool (as most any boy would) and brought it to school the next day to show his friends. And then this little boy with a very cool arrow became a big problem. He and his very cool arrow trigger all sorts of events about deadly weapons and regulations and questions about suspensions or other major consequences. I've heard stories of some schools filing charges against small children. But this boy came home crying and was afraid to face his parents feeling he had done something horrible.

That reaction is not unusual. Children who live in abusive families usually think that their family is normal and there is something wrong with them.

So how we help a small child understand that he is normal and the school that houses him all day is out of control with their anxiety?

Okay, I get what's happening with the schools. Everybody is scared of mass murderers and lawsuits. I get that. So we make rules to protect ourselves from our anxiety. Many rules, rigid rules -- like "zero tolerance" (for kids who have difficulty with impulse control and have zero tolerance for their emotions) and suspending small children for bringing in stuff that is being called a weapon. By the way, when I was in fourth grade Bruce Greenfield stabbed me in the leg with a pencil. When I told the teacher, all Bruce got was a dirty look. Bruce went on to become superintendent of schools and pencils maintained their place of respect in the education system. If that happened today, both Bruce and pencils would have been suspended.

So to the educators who do stuff like this, I am supposed to be understanding of your position. But that's for later. For now, it's you who has to be understanding. You harm children with these silly policies. I don't know if this 10-year-old boy will carry this trauma for the rest of his life, but he might. I wouldn't want to be in his position if I was 10, and neither would you.

I'm sure tomorrow I will be compassionate again, but today I am mad.

Dan Gottlieb
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Dan Gottlieb
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