Raul Freitas

Do the math


 violencia escola - milenio stadiu m


Violence of various types has been a thing in our schools for quite a while now, at least in the Western world. I’m not referring to bullying, like the old days, where those who appeared “weak” were targets for those looking to assert themselves. It was a fact of life.

Today harassment is more aggressive, to the point where even the victims are bringing weapons to the school. Respect, which was the binder in the world of education, seems to have disappeared. It’s not only an angry student assaulting a teacher, but also angry parents assaulting teachers in defense of their belligerent kids. So, what the hell happened? It seems that money and advanced technology would be guiding the people on an enlightening path to the future? Actually, I didn’t think that at all. The sarcasm is due to my usual anger when discussing our societal norms. There are so many fires to put out and the one involving our children isn’t getting the deliberate attention it deserves and seriously needs. Responsibility is dying of loneliness; nobody will take it. Nobody seems to be working on a solution which will inevitably be long-term. Fixing is always much more complicated than breaking. Band-aids are so simple to apply. We know at least some of the causes of the problem. Overly sensitive parents rearing overly sensitive kids, for starters. The concept that careers are what define us, are also serious disruptors to family life. Teachers whose hands are tied by threats of litigation, and others who just simply want to make a living and don’t really care either way. Governments that take no real measures to combat the issue, largely since a solution would probably disrupt business, and thus the economy, which, as we all know, is all knowing and all powerful. We’re all in our respective corners pointing fingers knowing full well that this is a problem we created, even if without intent, and all share the blame.

At the risk of sounding naïve, I believe that most students are at least respectful, even if they don’t really care about the school system, like it’s always been. It’s a minority that has always caused the problems, the difference is that today they’re bolder and more reckless, due mostly to the fact that they really don’t have to answer to anyone. Parents to these kids must take the blame for enabling them. I’ve heard too many state that the teachers are the ones who should be teaching their children values like respect. Really? I’m glad I’m from the day that most parents wouldn’t allow their kids out into the world without knowing how to respect others, especially adults. I always told mine that they represent the family when they’re out and about. Teachers play an important role, but education begins at home. It seems to me that we coddle our kids so much, out of guilt for not being there. It’s almost like the children of separated parents, many times the tendency is to enable or succumb to the wishes of the child in order not to lose their favour. Now we have kids running home crying to tell mommy and daddy that someone made fun of their socks, and just as many mommies and daddies barging into the principal’s office demanding justice because somebody made fun of the kid’s socks. We can’t and shouldn’t try and shield our children from adversity and disappointment, it’s part of learning to get along in this world. There are a lot of jokes now about the “awards for participating”, and for good reason. Children need to learn to understand that they’re not perfect like mommy and daddy suggest. They need to be guided in a realistic manner. Children and teens need to know that failure, as well as victory, will accompany them throughout life, and that it’s a good thing. Adversity keeps us alive. Balance, balance, balance. Did I mention balance? We can’t all be sitting on the same end of the canoe.

At birth, their slate is a wonderful blank, and it doesn’t magically get filled in. As parents, we play a most important role in writing the initial chapters, something that can’t be done without being present. The solution is simple, we all need to play our role: parents need to parent, teachers need to teach, and governments need to govern. This collective guidance will create more confident, stable young humans. That is the only formula that works. You can’t argue with the math.

Fiquem bem.

Raul Freitas/MS

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