Let me preface this blog post by saying that I am not anti-school and I am not here to complain about teachers or the administration. What they do is something special that I could never imagine doing myself and I give them full credit for their work on our children to the best of their abilities, they have my utmost respect.
My son is not perfect, he does all the usual dumb stuff that most 10-year-olds do. He has gone to “detention” many times during his elementary school career. Even if I didn’t agree with the rule that was broken, I still recognized and supported the school for enforcing it. One time, I made my son write lines at home for throwing crab apples at a basketball net. I thought the punishment was arbitrary, but I understood the rule.
While my son does things without much thought sometimes, he does not lie at any time. In fact, there have been numerous times that he had ratted himself out for doing something against the rules, or ensuring that others do not get accused of things that they didn’t do, that he did. He is – to a fault sometimes- completely honest.
This week my son was sent to “detention” for tackling another student in the schoolyard. While this is not within his character, I pushed him hard in defending himself at home, and he was adamant that he didn’t do it. Upon further review, he was sent to “detention” based on the sole accusation of the receiver of the tackle. No teacher was present during the incident, and other students backed up my son’s claim of innocence. It appeared as though he was at the wrong place at the wrong time, a victim of a sting.
While it was never really determined that he was to go to “detention” that day, we never really thought much of it until he came home with the “detention” slip to sign. On this slip, it was noted the crime he was convicted of and the handwritten resolution of my son to follow the next time should such a situation take place, oh, and an admission of guilt. He was completely innocent!
Where are the judge, jury and the right to prove yourself innocent until proven guilty?
After a serious conversation with him about what had transpired, we let our son know that by not sticking up for himself and writing the guilt that he did in the “detention” slip, he was in effect lying. We explained that next time something like this happens, he has every right to stand up for what he believes in, to not allow himself be robbed of his right to a fair trial.
This was a learning situation that we could not pass up!
Now, I have no idea why the teacher would send him to “detention” on the word of another student, that is not for me to judge. What I can judge is the fact that our schools are not giving our children the right to stand up for their right to a fair trial and prove their innocence.
We explained to him that if he is indeed innocent of a crime he didn’t commit, he has a right to fight for his innocence until proven guilty. He was under the assumption that had he stood up for his innocence, he would get in even more trouble.
Our children are being taught to obey and sacrifice their right to innocence to appease an appointed leader. Instead of learning how to resolve a situation, they are being taught to follow instead of lead, taught to assist instead of resist and taught to cower instead of taking action.
I was reminded that learning doesn’t happen at school. Learning occurs when what has been taught is being applied. Our children are being taught to be individuals who should be inclusionary and sensitive to the rights and feelings of others. But how can children learn those basic human courtesies when they are never allowed their individual right to innocence?
What kind of message are we sending our children?