Dog Biting and Justice

This will be my last blog about that Maureen Dowd article (the one about the grade 8 Landon boys involved in the “sex draft”). I promise.

I’ve been trying to figure out how we would handle a situation like this and have asked a number of people for their suggestions. A good number have said, “The first thing I’d do is expel those boys.”

That’s certainly a reasonable response, but I double clutch at the thought of expelling elementary school students. You can make the case that any boy of any age who so grossly objectifies girls deserves a very severe consequence, but removing these boys from the school may not do much to improve their distorted world-view.

The tension in disciplinary issues like this is between justice (What the boys and the community need to see as a consequence ) and compassion (We know boys, even the best boys, make mistakes. How can they learn from their errors?).

You may have heard the one about the man who was bitten by a dog and came down with an incurable case of rabies. The doctor told him there was no cure for him and that he should draw up a will.  The man was in the process of writing a very long document, when his doctor stopped him to say he didn’t need to write such an elaborate will. The man responded, “I’m not writing a will. I’m drawing up a list of all the people I want to bite.”

I understand the desire to sink one’s teeth into injustice. It’s just that with young boys, that impulsive response can sometimes undermine what we are really trying to achieve.

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2 Responses to “Dog Biting and Justice”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Your blog is a solid, thoughtful response to the Maureen Dowd article. One immediate question that follows: how or what to teach, to inculcate into these 8th grade boys to build insulation barriers to such futher behavior?

    The intersection of ESPN and the celebrity of Michael Jordan might be a starting point. My guess is the 24 hour a day sports coverage and the cult of celebrity that now saturates our boys is under addressed by the educational establishment. For every UCC male or female adult coach,mentor,administrator that teaches by their action, words and example, our youth are taking in the celebration of any and all sports “personalities”. Even when the media ostensibly chastises a celebrity, the mere repetition of the “story” saturates below the threshold and leaves imprints ,imagoes, that are currently beyond our reach.

    Another question: When the powers that be sit down to decide the big issue: deciding what to teach, why have the educational decision -makers left out Media literacy, Media deconstruction as a core course? If ,in fact, the average child born in 2010 will spend more time in” relationship” with a screen than any other single human being in the course of their lives, why has this revolution in our children lives not been taken up with more gravity, more rigor, more inclusion in the curriculum?

    About ten years ago, out of frustration , I took it upon myself to write a grant to have a Media literacy expert come to our school district.. I kept the teacher evaluations of the seminar, primarily because they wrote of their shock and lack of awareness of the depth and breadth of the medias’ impact on our children’s’ lives, and its erosive impact on the Childs/teens education within the classroom. The speaker was Gloria DeGaetano. For a interesting read ,I suggest “Stop Teaching our Children to Kill”, by Gloria DeGaetano and retired military professor,Dr. David Grossman. Did you know that an obese 13 year old with years of video game experience, with minimal introduction to a gun, can hit a moving target at a higher % than a veteran policeman? Sadly, this small bit of research takes a back seat to the conclusive research that sufficient media exposure desensitizes our future peacemakers.

    Jim, I have spent a career speaking with teens and researching the massive, widespread damage done by the Media and the “entertainment” industry. Why has the educational industry sidelined this issue?

    UCC has a 100% college admit for its 12th graders ,many to the most prestigious Universities.Strath . Should not this group of young people be the most informed about the ubiquity and frequently deleterious effects of the screen machines? The genie is out of the bottle, but it would not seem common sense that these youth be more “onto the manipulation’ and impact on their lives and the generation and families they will influence?

    The degradation of girls and women, the mind-set that led to the 8th grade boys draft is not a difficult bread trail to follow to its source.

    Perhaps Maureen Dowd need look no further then her newspaper with its advertisements sexualizing 10 year old girls, or its 48 hour countdown to the new religion of The NFL draft. Who institutionally is available other than formative educational institutions to prepare our youth for this assault on their lives, their perceptions, their relationships?

    More than anything, my fervent hope is that this blind spot is not about money over the healthy development of our kids. I do not want want to think about, but I do, that National Teachers Unions and the entertainment industry both pour massive monies into the same political pot. Are schools checkmated?

    Sorry for the length. Thanks for the blog.

  2. LInda Bronfman Says:

    Jim:

    I hope you will blog again on this topic- it is such a central issue for our society- how we act divisively and treat some portion of the population as “other” whether based on sex,race, religion etc. At UCC pennies are at times thrown at some of the Jewish students. It is unclear to me as to whether the boys’ ethnic jokes are taken in good humour or are sources of pain. Schools such as UCC should continue to be proactive by reviewing and perhaps enhancing their educational curricula, which will nurture a cohort of respectful, empathic young men. I am disappointed that your blog did not elicit more suggestions. For example,are there classroom discussions on feminism and the choice of some men to identify as pro-feminists?

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