December 17, 2010

Fist Fights and Socialization

Peter is home from college, Meg is finishing up her first semester of college, and Missa still has a few more days at the high school before Christmas break.

This morning Peter, Missa and I were hanging out in the kitchen. Missa was telling us about a fight she broke up at school. She was changing clothes in the PE locker room (where there are no teachers) when she heard a couple girls fighting. One girl was screaming at the other and shoved her against the locker and was on top of her. The rest of the class backed up to watch the fight, but Missa grabbed the aggressor, threw her against the locker and held her down so the other girl could get away. Yes. My policewoman in training. The three of them ended up in the principal's office, but she didn't get in trouble because there were enough witnesses to say she broke it up.

Peter's comment: It's a good thing those girls didn't miss out on this important socialization opportunity. They might have been maladjusted if they were homeschooled.

Missa: It's a dog-eat-dog world out there and it's important for kids to go through it.

Peter: But this sort of thing doesn't happen in the rest of the world, except maybe in prison. I've never once seen a fist fight, except on school grounds. (Peter was a teacher's aide in a 4th grade Chicago classroom for a couple years).

Then she told us about a teacher who had her leg broken when she was pushed down the stairs, trying to break up a fight. All the kids just stood around watching. Granted, kids get in trouble if they are part of a fight, no matter if they start it, are victimized, or try to stop it. But come on. Where is common human decency? Where is the willingness to do what is right, whether or not you get in trouble?

And another story: A kid on crutches walked up to another and whacked him across the face, knocking him out cold. He is now in a home for troubled kids.

Just yesterday a group of kids got into a brawl at school and someone pulled a knife.

All this in our little farm town that only has one high school and a population of 20,000 people. No wonder more and more families are choosing to homeschool all the way to high school graduation.


Heather said...

"Except in prison" is exactly right, well, unless you add bars, and sporting events. How often do you have to break up a fight in the workplace or in the store or in the doctors office?

This was one of the reasons my dad retired and I decided my kids weren't going to public school (all the rules about what you can and cannot do as a teacher dealing with a fight were just way to crazy and convoluted.)

Ashley @ Root And Twig said...

Thanks for sharing this. I see reasons every day why homeschooling is a good choice, a very valid choice.

Chris said...

It's funny how normal it seems for many people to have kids go through certain "rites of passage" that is supposedly preparing them for "the real world" and yet they will only experince those things in the instution of school.

Julie said...

Great post! Thanks for sharing.

Rana said...

A lot of the fighting happens because kids don't care about each other and they don't care because their parents don't care. If they aren't taught at home before they head off to school to just have common sense and be decent to each other, more than likely they are not going to learn it on there own.

Good for her for stepping in.

Karen said...

When I was in the 8th grade, I went through nearly a year of total ostracization from the small group of kids who had been my 'best friends.' It sucked, there is just no other word for it, but I got through it by playing sports and making other friends (hard as it was in a school with only 400 students in 5 grades!)

I came out of it more confident, and with a better self-image and a better idea of what it means to be a true friend. And I used to say, "yes, it was hard but it built character."

I don't say that anymore, since we started homeschooling. Now I wonder, if I hadn't had those 12 long months of wondering what I had done and why they hated me so much, would I be a better-adjusted person than I am now? And I think, maybe I would be.

In this way, schools are very much like prisons, and they can truly bring out the worst in people. I recently re-read The Chocolate War, and I was freaked out by how spot-on that book is.

Thanks for giving me the chance to rant, and good for you Missa to have the courage to step up!

Debbie said...

Melissa, good for you. One of my kids was homeschooled until the middle of 7th grade. She told all the girls straight out that she was not going to join any "clicks" ... and that she was going to talk to whom ever she wants to talk to.

Jena said...

Love all your comments! So good to hear your experiences.

abba12 said...

I was the victim of bullies throughout my entire time at school. It wasn't just the mild teasing kind, I was 'that kid', the one that no one spoke to for fear of becoming bullied themselves. I gave up on wanting friends, I just wanted to be left alone.

People have tried to tell me it's character biulding, teachers ignored it saying I needed to learn to cope, and I myself know I wouldn't be the same person without what happened, but that dosen't make it right. If the acts committed on a daily basis against me were committed by adults they would be illegal, so what makes them 'character biulding' towards a teenager, but highly inappropriate towards adults? An adult being mugged will biuld character, they still go to the police to find the guy that did it and get justice though! But a child being beaten up and having their belongings stolen on a weekly basis is told to just avoid them and walk away (I'm visually impaired, so as an adult that adds a whole other aspect, one which was ignored totally at school)

I completely agree with your daughter that children need to learn how to deal with those sorts of situations. The problem is, going through them at school DOES NOT teach you how to deal with them, because the way they are dealt with at school is completely different to how they are dealt with in the adult world. Children should learn to deal with them the way adults do. There would be far less fist fights at school if the victim had rights and the perpetrator was taken to the police station to press charges and be fined/do community service/spend the night in jail, which is what would happen if there was a full blown fist fight in a shopping center between adults.

I wish there was more children like your daughter around when I was at school.

Jena said...

abba12, how heartbreaking! I just want to cry for you and all the kids who have to live through such abuse. You are so right that the things kids go through at school are not like the adult world. Such a lie we've been fed. We are just hardening and destroying children who grow up to be dysfunctional adults. I am so glad that you came out of your past with hope and courage. :)

Hannah said...

Good for Missa! It takes so much courage to risk being hurt or ridiculed and to interfere in a fight, when no one else is standing up to it.

I know this kind of thing goes on all the time (although usually no bystanders step up) and I'm really glad that my kids are missing out on this kind of socialization.

Jenny said...

I LOL about "except in prison". That is so true! I remember this stuff happening in junior high and high school and that was over 10 years ago. I can't imagine what is going on now!

Martha A. said...

It is great you can have conversations like that!

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