Teach Your Children Well

This coming Friday marks the 20th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the most comprehensive treaty on children's rights. The convention has been ratified by nearly every country in the world, except for the United States. The convention would fill current gaps in U.S. laws, and provide all children in America with the same robust protections that children in 193 countries are already entitled to.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child, recognizing "the right of the child to education," specifies that education "shall be directed to…the development of the child's personality, talents and mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential."

The convention also requires "all appropriate measures to ensure that school discipline is administered in a manner consistent with the child's human dignity," and mandates the implementation of the convention's guarantees "without discrimination of any kind, irrespective of the child's…race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national, ethnic or social origin, property, disability, birth or other status."

For far too many young people in America, a system of education structured according to these principles is simply not available. Our zero-tolerance approach to education and school safety, characterized by an overzealous reliance on punitive measures and law enforcement, has sent countless children down the school-to-prison pipeline, robbing them of the educational development and human dignity afforded by the convention.

Just this month in Chicago, a food fight ended with the arrest of more than two dozen students, who will struggle to overcome the emotional and practical damage done by this kind of police encounter. Indeed, research has shown that being arrested significantly increases a young person's odds of dropping out of school, lowers standardized test scores, reduces future employment prospects, and increases the likelihood of future interaction with the criminal justice system. Yet in 2005, almost 70 percent of public school students ages 12 to 18 reported that police officers or security guards patrolled their hallways

Last month in Delaware, a first-grader was suspended for bringing a camping tool — which his school deemed a weapon — to class. He was in good company. According to 2006 U.S. Department of Education data collection, 3.3 million students received out-of-school suspensions and more than 100,000 students were expelled from school. Students of color, disproportionately subjected to harsh disciplinary measures, bear the brunt of this over-criminalization.

As we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, we must imagine an approach to education guided by the principles of human dignity, freedom from discrimination, and the full development of every child.

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Maggie

What is your recommendation for a food fight etc. Just tell them not to do it again? Write an essay? No consequences for their actions?

There are always consequences, however, our children do not know that. It is always someone else's fault. You think that just because children are not corrected that will keep them out of jail? You need to go out to the real world that these kids live in.

Maggie

What is your recommendation for a food fight etc. Just tell them not to do it again? Write an essay? No consequences for their actions?

There are always consequences, however, our children do not know that. It is always someone else's fault. You think that just because children are not corrected that will keep them out of jail? You need to go out to the real world that these kids live in.

Anonymous

It is much easier to preach 10 sermons that it is to live one. It would be good to see the writer engage in solutions as well as seeing the wrongs.

Anonymous

There is something called detention and, heck, suspension, which schools could do instead of throwing kids in jail, aka, throwing them away as trash.

Maggie

On Nov 19, 2009 my granddaughter was at the bus stop waiting for the school bus. A woman was video taping all of the children at this stop. This is a multi racial public school as they live in a multi racial area. The bus driver and parents (after being notified by their children, thank god for cell phones)notified the public school. The police officer a woman of color will be at that bus stop today to supervise and make sure the children are ok and also to confront this woman if she returns.

You never hear of those stories. I do agree with #4 but I am wondering if there was more to the food fight then was reported in this article.

Maggie

Sorry left this out: this police officer is located at the school.

Maggie

Just as an FYI on Nov 20, 2009 the police officer was at the bus stop and arrested this person for still video taping these children. Much to parents relief.

roald

Maggie - I am interested in your suggestion for proper punishment for a bunch of children being children.

For it would depend on the damage. It would definitely include apologies, cleaning up, and detention. If properly were damaged, suspension or even expulsion. If people were hurt - hospital visit - the juvenile courts.

BTW, I'm glad someone was watching over your granddaughter and her schoolmates and took action.

Tchr2

More than 2 dozen students involved? What are cafeteria aides supposed to do when a mob of adult-size people are rioting? This isn't children being children - parents and teachers are supposed to have taught children the exact opposite, that civilized human beings do not act this way. What about the rights of the remaining students to have lunch in a safe enrivonment? Isn't a safe education one of the tenets of children's rights?

Anonymous

I am very curious why a women filming children at a buss stop would constitute an illegal act ? One can speculate until dooms day, but what was the actual crime ?

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