It’s well-known that the brains of teenagers are not yet fully developed. From the AACAP:
Many parents do not understand why their teenagers occasionally behave in an impulsive, irrational, or dangerous way. At times, it seems like teens don’t think things through or fully consider the consequences of their actions. Adolescents differ from adults in the way they behave, solve problems, and make decisions. There is a biological explanation for this difference. Studies have shown that brains continue to mature and develop throughout childhood and adolescence and well into early adulthood.
Scientists have identified a specific region of the brain called the amygdala that is responsible for immediate reactions including fear and aggressive behavior. This region develops early. However, the frontal cortex, the area of the brain that controls reasoning and helps us think before we act, develops later. This part of the brain is still changing and maturing well into adulthood…
Based on the stage of their brain development, adolescents are more likely to:
* act on impulse
* misread or misinterpret social cues and emotions
* get into accidents of all kinds
* get involved in fights
* engage in dangerous or risky behavior
Adolescents are less likely to:
* think before they act
* pause to consider the consequences of their actions
* change their dangerous or inappropriate behaviors
All this is well-established, and it should come as news to no one. Yet school districts continue to set students up for failure – and then hold them fully accountable when the inevitable happens.
Today’s school kids are subject to a constant barrage of racial dogma. They’re led to believe that slavery, lynching, segregation and a host of other historic phenomena were primarily examples of white-on-black aggression. If we were to perform a word-association test on American school kids, we would surely find that words like “slavery,” “lynching” and “oppression” would be associated with “black” or “African-American.”
To a certain extent, this is justified. After all, there was a lot of that sort of thing going on in America, and black history is part of American history; few would deny this. No fair-minded person would prevent schools from including this history in the curriculum.
But it appears to me that all sense of proportion has been lost. We have drifted from inclusiveness to an overbearing, all-consuming, obsessiveness of American blacks that borders on fanaticism and worship.
When teenagers are subject to this obsession at school, on television, in social media and from every figure of authority, we shouldn’t be surprised that they will sometimes rebel. This is inevitable.
When a simple school joke becomes national news, and elicits a heavy-handed punishment we should all recognize that things have gone too far. From Newsweek:
A school district in Minnesota is investigating reports that a student used a sign with racist language to ask another student to prom.
An image of the male and female students pictures together holding a sign “If I was Black I’d be picking cotton, but I’m white so I’m picking you. Prom?” is being shared on social media.
The image was reported to have been taken in Big Lake. In a statement posted on its website, the Big Lake School District said it was made aware of the proposal and is “taking this report very seriously…”
“We will be evaluating it under any and all applicable School District policies and will take whatever action is necessary and appropriate to address the situation,” the statement said.
“Big Lake Schools does not condone racism, in any form. Our school has been committed to implementing the Hornet Way, as a way to develop and guide our students’ character and actions. The Hornet Way teaches the values of respect, honesty, kindness, responsibility, and fairness. We believe those values extend to all aspects of our school community.
Poor judgement? Definitely – but this is something we should expect from teenagers, especially from an education system that constantly pounds into students’ heads that “black people were slaves.” If kids are taught that blacks=slaves, then the system should look in the mirror when assigning blame for such incidents. It’s all about proportion and priorities.
Any way we look at it, this level of scrutiny and excessive punishment is unacceptable. If a student makes a sign that the administrators consider insensitive, then they should take that student aside and have a talk with him. He should not be made a pariah or be subject to excessive punishment – and the incident should not reported by Newsweek.