Thursday, April 10, 2008

Third-Graders and Hatred

Yesterday when I arrived home for lunch, I turned on MSNBC - which is my usual routine- and was shocked by the lead story. A group of nine 3rd graders from an elementary school in Georgia are accused of trying to harm their teacher. Third-graders! We are talking about 8 and 9 year old babies! How do children this young learn about hatred? Unfortunately, in most circumstances, these children learn from their parents. What is the world coming to when you can't feel safe around a group of elementary students? It is not the school's responsibility to teach these children ethics and how to behave. This is what parents are for; we have to teach our children how to behave before we send the out into the big, bad world.

But what happens to the children who do not have responsible parents to teach them right from wrong? More and more children feel like it is okay to lash out at a teacher or other authority figures. I am a 45 year old mother of three girls; ages 15, 24, and 25. My children are not perfect by no means, but at least they know how to behave in public.

When my girls were younger, all I had to do was give them "the look" and they knew they had better behave or else. I am proud of the fact that my children say "please" and "thank you", that they hold doors open for people, or say "excuse me" when they interrupt. This is only basic common manners, but many children today do not understand this concept.

From experience, I know that children learn by what they see, not what they hear. They may listen to everything you tell them, but when it comes to learning, they emulate what they see. So, if a parent is so wrapped up in daily life that they forget basic manner, then the kids will be the same way. If parents solve problems by fighting, complaining and threatening; then the children will do the same thing.

I am saddened by the lack of parental involvement in so called "problem" children. I feel sorry for the teachers who have to deal with these students. Teachers are some of the most under appreciated workers around. Teachers are responsible for teaching our children about the world and how to live in it, but they deserve more respect than they get.

Parents, please watch the anger when talking aroundyour children. Don't let them hear, "I hate this or I hate that." Don't let them see you get in a physical fight. Don't let them hear you threaten to harm another person. Please try to teach your children with love, caring and emphathy for others.

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