I read with disbelief, a large chunk of disgust and dismay that some 90,000 children have been branded as racists by over zealous teachers and assistants. My head still shakes with utter horror at the thought that our society has sunk so low as to brand our children.Those who report these kids, probably have their excuses at the ready:
- They are following procedure.
- Doing it in the best interest of the kid, in the long run.
- Sending out a message that some behaviour is unacceptable.
Well, my message to these good folks is; take your head out of your anus! (you may choose a different word.) How many children fully comprehend the concept of racism, the hurt and anguish it can cause?
The burning question is why the kid used the words in the first instance.
- Has something happened to make the kid lash out?
- Simply showing off?
- Peer group pressure?
- Trying to fit in?
- Seeking attention?
- Mimicking a parent or other adult?
What ever the cause may be, it is a severe punishment for the child’s naivety. Surely, we don’t encourage enlightenment with punishment? Being labelled a racist seems a very draconian punishment to me. Akin, I would suggest to fascism.
Why is it draconian? Quite simple really, it leaves no room for development, though that could be the nasty intention of the punishment.
Once defined as a racist it remains on the child’s record until they leave school, perhaps beyond. In such circumstances it can prejudice their long-term aspiration and thus life chances. Thus the thoughtless imposition of such a horrid tag can have unforeseen consequences.
When we punish a child with a tag of racism, we are stigmatizing them. This may not lead to better behaviour but feed into a more entrenched attitude. It can lead to the child being ostracized, isolated; alone with a festering bitterness.?How might the child perceive the retribution of his/her elders?
Will it generate understanding or foster: confusion, resentment, anger and distrust; or all of the above? What does it do for the child’s family: make them more aware so that they aid Little Brat’s understanding, or feed their resentment? Will it send them rushing out to buy a PC phrase book (yet to be published) as bedtime reading for their criminal child? Does the family react by coming down hard on Little Brat, for the embarrassment suffered? So, you end up with two abused kids.? How thorough was the investigation?
If, as is highly likely, that the child has mimicked a parent or related adult. Why don’t the PC brigade, march round to the offenders home, knock on the door, and say, “hello, are you teaching your Little Brat to be a racist? That is not cricket! You hear?
In general terms, the social orientations implicit within the caregiver-child and child- peer interactions do appear to be related. Caregivers regularly offering toys to their child produce children who in turn are more likely to offer toys to their peers… In similar vein, aggressive children are often reflecting their learning experiences, in the family or wider social world. Rejecting parents using frequent prohibitions and controlling behaviour have been consistently associated with aggressiveness in their children, as have high levels of physical punishment. Clearly parents are, wittingly or unwittingly, acting as models for their child. (P. Erwin, 1993)
The real problem here is that the PC agenda is predisposed to see the negative in any race issue. There seems to be a belief, that if you stamp down hard in any given situation that the problem will disappear. There is no learning curve in this agenda; no room for development. It appears simply a case of crime & punishment.
“It is important to remember that behaviour which might be seen as negative and problematic by adults, is not necessarily seen in the same light by children”. (P. Barnes, 2002) I think what Barnes, might be alluding to here is for us to tread carefully. We need to enter that world, to understand better; before we get out the whip!
We are in danger of destroying social harmony by being too pedantic, much too heavy handed in our approach especially where it relates to children. You cannot impose thought on people, they must be willing to absorb it, otherwise it can create resentment.
What comes across quite alarmingly is our lack of understanding of childhood and the consequence of our involvement in it.
Playgrounds are sites for social learning-of negative as well as positive in human relationships…if pupils are engaged in social learning, then we can be sure that they are dealing with differences of social class, gender, race, physical and intellectual abilities; how to decide what is acceptable and unacceptable in the behaviours of others; how to deal with those who ‘do not fit in’. If left to their own devices, they often order their world into hierarchical patterns of domination, subordination and marginality. (E. Kelly, 1994)
Mirror, mirror on the wall………
The first cheeky point to make here is that it seems as though the PC brigade are still at school, e.g. “often order their world into hierarchical patterns………..” However, on a serious point that stems from Kelly’s, analysis is that intervention while crucial must be tempered by the: how, when, what, who and why. It could prove critical for the longer term social development of the children. Any other approach is knee jerk and defeats the object.? Why do we brand our children?
Why are teachers and others so quick to name and shame these kids?
- Is it fear of being labelled a racist for not reporting any such incident?
- Is it fear of the sack? What does this illustrate about the teaching profession, that they lack the nous, the wherewithal to stand up against the tyranny of the local authority Diversity Officer?
- Is it about future promotion prospects?
- Their personal belief system?
- Just can’t be bothered?
- Who carried out the investigation?
- Were all parties to the incident questioned?
- Were the parents brought in immediately?
- What was their response?
- Was the evidence that of an adult?
- Was it overheard or directed at?
- Was it the evidence of another child?
- Did they get the context right? And on and on and on.
Should the investigation not be carried out by a local authority psychologist to help minimize the trauma to the children? Then that might prove too expensive. A cheaper scenario is more likely:-
Headteacher, “Did you say that, Little Brat”?
Little Brat, “Yes Miss”.
Let the punishment begin…………….The new PC aid for teaching empathy.
All in the name of multiculturism.
Q. Will the monastery still be open after the pub shuts? I want to get out of this……
A big consideration:-
“Our present-day knowledge of the child’s mind is comparable to a fifteenth century map of the world – a mixture of truth and error….vast areas remain to be explored”.
(Arnold L. Gesell)