Please keep this anonymous since I work at a school in Japan and fear that my opinions might offend parents or coworkers. I feel that the Dec. 13 editorial, “ An education in violence,” got it right when it stated that “Schools need to provide clear guidance and well-defined boundaries, but this clarity must be balanced by reasonable flexibility and student autonomy, too.”
The editorial was slightly wrong to blame the economy or “hard times” for the recent trend of violence in schools. Violence has risen in schools due to a lack of consequences and punishments at school. When students act up, there is very little a teacher can do in the way of stopping the student other than deliver sharp words, which are almost always ignored or returned with filthy words from the students.
This leads to students literally doing just about anything and the teachers simply replying “Shoganai (Can’t be helped).” I have seen students light playing cards on fire, break windows, kill baby birds on school property, hit others, etc. and still be allowed to attend their soccer practice or school trip.
As far as I can gather, there are no such things as detention or expulsion — not that these are necessarily the best ideas as they can lead to other problems. But my question is, when do we say enough is enough? In an ideal world everything could be solved with a chat about right and wrong, but clearly that isn’t working.
We need to seriously look at why these students act this way and think of a way to limit what they are allowed to do. This is not just for the sake of the students, but also for the safety and sanity of teachers — not to mention the scores of students who sit innocently in school and are victimized by a relative few. I greatly credit those students who show up and do the work not because they have to, but because it is the right thing to do.
I know that, as a junior high student in America, if I hadn’t been afraid of the consequences presented to me at school, I would probably not have put in any effort at all.
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