Tough Love In Disguise:
The Government's Psychotic War On School Children
If this were the year 1700 in Salem Massachusetts, I would be comforting my wife at our daughter's grave site after her witch-burning execution. If this were 1800 Alabama, my wife and I would be nursing the scars on my daughters back after her whipping from the master. And if this were the early 1900s, we would be attending the funeral of my daughter after her public lynching. However, this is the new millennium and we are rebuilding our daughter's confidence level after she was taken from English class and locked in juvenile detention overnight for defending herself in a fight at school. Punishment by social order is a timeless act but not all methods and reasoning behind that punishment has stood the test of time.
Yes, in a time-space continuum, the Government killed my daughter, and they will kill yours if you let them. For a long time I was questioning my capability of social conventionality. Do I fit in? I wondered hard if it was just me, or if others could feel like I did after I got a call from her school telling me my daughter had been arrested and was on her way to juvenile. Of course the first thing I thought to myself was "what could she have done to get arrested? Was it drugs? Murder?" I thought, "Oh Lord, what has happened?" Thank God it was neither. She had been in a fight. But after more information about the incident, I found out she had been charged with aggravated assault, disorderly conduct and assault on a police officer. What the hell? From that point I needed the facts.
The facts were as follows: My daughter started a fight with a boy because he kept whispering in her ear that he was going to rape her and cut her throat and other vile acts he was going to do to her. Her mother told her that if the boy ever touched her, that she had the right to defend herself. Nevertheless, my daughter did not wait for the boy to touch her, she hit him the next time he whispered to her. So the fight breaks out and the school-staffed police officer is called to the scene. He attempts to pull her off the boy and she snatches away. After a few minutes he was able to get her under control and sit her down. However, from this incident, he charged her with the above crimes because he said that his shoulder was dislocated from trying to apprehend my daughter. Yes, my five foot daughter dislocated the 6 foot 2 inch tall police officer's shoulder as she snatched away from him. I was livid.
She spent the night in juvenile detention. That night my wife and I were very distraught. We prayed continually and posted her bail the next day. Posting bail in itself pissed me off to no extreme. The attitude of the assistant principle in her call of the news, (after she was constantly told of the bullying of my daughter and did nothing about it), the lies of the police officer, and the idea that my daughter was in jail brought a level of anger in me that only God could appease. Confusion rushed in like a river and I could not for the life of me understand where this insatiable act of injustice came from.
It was then that I began my research on the Government enforced Zero Tolerance policy and the Referral to Law Enforcement policy. Until then, my perception of school discipline was sadly mistaken for the days of when I was growing up. I never considered that today's social setting had advanced (or regressed) to such stupidity. I realized that the people in authority who have created such policies had to be at least my age or older, and I was ashamed. Unfortunately, further research revealed even deeper levels of unintelligent policies and practices where it pertained to school rules, police involvement, and the juvenile courts. It was as if I had awaken in a new and strange society.
Meanwhile, my daughter wore an ankle monitor for a month while serving school suspension. In my zero tolerance and acceptance of these new and insane social standards of public schools, I immediately withdrew both my high school children from the system and enrolled them in home school courses. Thank God for people who knew about this madness before I did. There are massive amounts of data about many topics pertaining to Zero Tolerance and Referral To Law Enforcement policies from around the country. It was not just me, hundreds of thousands of people are aware of and completely against it. Alas, my generation has maintained some sanity.
Yes, she was sentenced to 1 month house arrest and 25 weeks community service. I will admit, the judge spied out the foolishness of the case and saw the skepticism of my wife and I, and in his duties, laughed the case to hell where it belongs. It was her first offense, the officer did not show up, and prayer changes things. In my prayers remain the assistant principle, the officer, and the boy she was fighting. They are victims of a society under the control of government policy that invokes mass hysteria. The assistant principle and the officer are doing their jobs under the constraints of government law. Children are growing and learning under the fear of incarceration. And parents are living day to day in hopes their children are safe from crazed shooters, terrorist, and assistant principles, and police officers doing their jobs.
Zero Tolerance Rules
In 1994, federal legislation enacted the Zero Tolerance policy in schools which sanctioned the immediate punishment by suspension of students who violated school rules, regardless of how menial or minor the infraction. It is understood that there would be no chances given. The first infraction was the last infraction and there was no room for compromise. The psychology behind this is to deter unruly and unacceptable behavior by letting school children know they better get it right the first time or else. Quintessentially, it is a seek-and-destroy tactic used for social control.
From the Zero Tolerance policy came another, more frightening sounding, and even more harsh rule of order called the "Referral to Law Enforcement" policy that states were federally required to enforce in the public schools. The policy was inserted in every school student code of conduct booklet and given to children and parents. The code of conduct includes the usual major infractions such as fighting, drug possession, weapons possession and heinous sexual acts or behaviors down to minor infractions, like smoking, disruptive behavior in class, tardiness, and swearing.
The problem with the Referral to Law Enforcement policy is that if a child is caught violating the student code of conduct, school administration is mandated by federal law to report that behavior to the school-staffed Law Enforcement officer on duty. And that officer uses his discretion on whether criminal charges should be brought against the child and the child should go to jail. It is at this point of social control that the public and authority must consider the psychology behind Zero Tolerance.
However, because of the now heightened public hysteria of domestic terrorism, and of mass school shootings in the past two decades, the government has the support of the public to use any means necessary to deter and punish any unruly or suspicious behavior that would possibly lead to mass shootings or terrorism. Currently, all irregular behavior is questioned, outlawed and swiftly punished, aka, Zero Tolerance. Though the reasoning behind such policies may seem logical, effortless to abide by and even seem beneficial for the safety and security of our children, the psychology behind the policies must be examined thoroughly. It is one of mob mentality which has lead to disturbing, detrimental and even inhumane forms of punishment.
A History Of Insanity
At one time in American history we can all attest to, burning witches, whipping slaves and hanging Black men were also all Zero Tolerance policies. They were methods of punishment that we now understand to be extreme and inhumane performed out of shear hastiness and intolerance enforced by the federal government. Needless to say, if this were the sixteen, 17 or 1800s, many of our school children would be dead after the enforcement of government law and social rule. Though the punishment is not death any longer, our children are being arrested, prosecuted and incarcerated because of these policies, therefore, it is not only safe to assume, but apparent they would be dead under the same rule of law back then. Again, the psychology behind these policies are not normal.
As a result, children as young as 5-years old - who draw pictures of guns - are arrested and charged with very scary crime titles. Potential terrorist threats, aggravated assault, battery, disorderly conduct, and so forth. These terms are applied because they are suppose to strike fear in children and parents so to appear serious enough to be a real threat. The truth is, a picture of a gun is not a real threat, it is an imagined threat or a sign or psychological signal needing attention from a school counselor or professional child psychologist. The illusion of a "threat" is being used to build social hysteria and character profiles are being made-up by government officials and being applied to public actions that at one time were considered normal human behavior, sadly this has spilled over to profile normal childhood behavior. Thus, mass hysteria is again in effect.
Mass hysteria used during the Salem witch-burning trials in colonial Massachusetts in the late 1700s incited literal witch-hunts by mobs of people and women as young as 12-years old were accused of being witches. They were tracked down by crowds of people based on suspicions and superstitions that Satan was at work in the neighborhood and had to be stopped. And it was determined that the only way to stop such an evil was to burn the accused which would kill the evil spirit in them. This was normal thinking during that time in history and was sanctioned and conducted by the courts.
Likewise, during the time of slavery, slaves were tied up and beaten by plantation owners for any acts of disobedience, and this also, was considered normal thinking and sanctioned by the federal government. The idea behind getting support for these type methods of punishment was to get the public to believe that the acts committed by slaves were worthy of such discipline. As brutal as the whippings were, many times the public would gather to watch, much like modern day executions are done today. These proceedings were also justified in the lynching of Black men who were considered a threat to the social structure of whites and their way of life.
Government Induced Mob Mentality
The mob mentality is known as a large group of people who are influenced to adopt certain beliefs and behaviors, follow current trends, and who are predictable in behavior. If sanctioned by the right authority, a group of people can be encouraged to do just about anything, regardless of how horrid, insane or ridiculous it may be. Thus, if the government can convince an entire country to believe that their policies and actions are legal, necessary or even moral, a mob will follow. Convincing people that they are being protected from danger or evil is the perfect psychological tool to form a mob mentality. Such as was when the United States attacked Iraq after 911. The country was convinced that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and posed a threat to American humanity thus they needed to be destroyed.
This same mentality, that of public support and fear is being used to justify the Zero Tolerance policy the government is using to incarcerate children who they have deemed a threat to other children. Now that the public has been convinced of this imagined threat, the government can go forth and prosecute anyone whom they consider to fit the profile. In other words, if this were early America, all children who have been jailed as a result of the Zero Tolerance policy, would have been killed or punished, by burning, beating, or hanging. It may seem extreme to compare punishing school children to these barbaric levels of punishment, but it is not the actual punishment being compared, it is the mentality behind it that is in question.
This level of psychological problem solving and decision making must be reconsidered because it leads to a society that borders on a pathological psychosis. Over time, society realized that burning people, whipping them unmercifully and hanging them from trees was not humane. The same understanding and realization must be applied to the current policies and punishment of children. Fighting in school must be understood as just that, children fighting, instead of deemed a crime or an act of terror. Drawing a picture of a gun being considered an act of terrorism is insane and many people realize this, but because the government has sanctioned it and has claimed the right to incarcerate a child for doing so, this thinking has become the new normal and a sure form of government control by mob mentality.
Come Little Children
Children fight because they have not learned to control their anger or impulses. They curse because they hear their parents curse. They steal because they have not yet learned to appreciate working for what they have. When a four-year old takes a piece of candy at the cash register and places it in her pocket, she is not doing it based on a preconceived plot, she is acting out of pure selfishness. She sees something she wants and takes it as hers. To punish that behavior with a beating is wrong. If the parent beats the child, they have not learned good parenting skills. Because explaining to the child that it is wrong is the first solution. If Zero Tolerance was conducted at every cash register in the country, we would have a prison full of four-year olds. What is really sad is that if the government could convince the public that adolescent theft at cash registers is outlawed, many people would latch on to the hysteria.
Moreover, in corporate America, in the millions of cubicles throughout the country, it is not often that we see Jane in Accounting jack-slap the UPS guy if he upset her. Or if we hear that John from User Support walked down to the cafeteria and challenge the cashier to a fight in the parking lot after work. These things do not happen every day and not nearly as often as school fights. That is because adults have learned to control their impulses and to restrain themselves. Children have not perfected that ability yet. Neither have they perfected the knowledge or appreciation of working for a living and earning what they have. That is why they are in school and have parents, to learn acceptable social behavior. But if we take that away from them and give that responsibility to the government, what we have is a complex system of social control of children which apparently leads to incarceration.
Mass social control driven by hysteria has been enacted because of work and school shootings and acts of foreign and domestic terrorism. Taking precautions against such public acts of violence is necessary to secure the lives of people, but we must ask ourselves, where does responsible efforts of protection end and barbaric behavior begin. This is the problem with hysteria. No one has the time or wants to take the time or brain power to decipher between the two, thus we have a Zero Tolerance society. The level of indifference it must take to enforce punishment on any behavior that appears to be aggression is simply ludicrous and plain ole lazy. It leaves no room for consideration, understanding, or "no pun intended," tolerance. Thus we have resorted back to the psychology of swift justice similar to that of witch-burning, whipping and hanging people for anything we do not understand, or believe to be socially acceptable behavior.
In essence, the psychology behind believing in superstitions and punishing people based on those beliefs, believing in race superiority and controlling and punishing those of another color have been replaced with the practice of stereotyping. Instead of witches, it is terrorist or any act or group of people that implies terrorism, even if our school children fit the profile. Instead of slaves, it is scary and suspicious Black males. Though the words have changed, the acts and the psychology behind this type public behavior is the same. People tend to fear and destroy what they do not understand. And if they convince the government to make and enforce the laws to destroy it, that is what they will do. Being human is natural but so is having and using common sense. We have a right to fear what we do not understand but we also have a responsibility to try and understand that in which we fear.
The elimination of Zero Tolerance policies and thinking is critical in today's society because it is leading to cruel and unusual punishment of children. A return to punishments that fit the offense is most effective when dealing with children. A return to understanding what normal childhood behavior is, is definitely needed. We need to give our children understanding, not inflict fear. Of course, murderers like terrorist and school shooters deserve Zero Tolerance, but not at the expense of a child's freedom and self esteem, such as in my daughter's case. A line was crossed in her case that never should have been crossed. And people should not be subject to accept such treatment and methods of punishment as normal. That type thinking and subjectivism of the public has lead to society's return to true mob rule and the literal witch-hunts (profiling) and tree-hanging type justice.
By CR Hamilton
Free To Learn Project
Free To Learn has requested school district suspension records from three (3) local school systems: Chesterfield, Henrico, and Richmond public school systems, and are waiting for responses.
Note: The Free To Learn Project request the following:
- We challenge you to lower the suspension rate to zero.
- We request 3-day suspensions (if suspension is absolutely necessary) instead of 10-day suspensions.
- We request mediation with the child and the childs parents before suspension.
- We request two (2) firm warnings before actual arrest.