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Jewish World Review May 2, 2000 /27 Nissan, 5760

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Kids' lack of respect threatens teachers -- "WHO AM I?"
"I am someone who's afraid to go to school because some kids might try to make me have an allergy attack on purpose by making me smell what they know will get me sick."

"Who am I?"

"I'm someone afraid to go to school because some kids might make me eat or drink something to hurt me."

"Who am I?"

"I'm someone afraid to go to school because some kids might tell lies about me to get me in trouble with the principal."

And the worst part of it is that the kids' parents won't do much about it.

"Who am I?"

A school kid? Guess again. I'm the teacher. Each of these scenarios has happened.

In Marysville, Wash., a parent actually complained that her middle-school son was suspended for intentionally wearing cologne to a class whose teacher was well known to have a severe allergy to fragrances. The boy, according to an Associated Press report, "admits he and two others put on cologne just to get kicked out of class, as they had seen happen to others."

In San Francisco, a group of eighth-graders plotted to poison their teacher by lacing the instructor's water bottle with nail polish remover. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that the first plan was to spike the teacher's coffee with a laxative; this plan was thwarted when it was discovered that he didn't drink coffee.

The arresting police officer asked one of the five students involved if "... she knew the nail polish remover was dangerous. The girl's answer, (the officer) wrote, was 'yes.'"

The Washington Post reported the story of sixth-graders in Germantown, Pa., angry at their gym teacher, who had allegedly yelled at them for bad sportsmanship because they had been mouthing off during an intramural game. "They wanted to get even. So they said he'd stared at their breasts and fondled them in the locker room."

Within hours of the accusations, the teacher was suspended with pay and ordered to leave the school. After nearly a month of misery for the teacher, six girls and a boy were arrested and charged as juveniles with making false statements to police. These were all kids described as "good kids" and "honor students."

One of the girls involved in the false allegation of "fondling" is quoted in a follow-up Washington Post article as saying: "We thought it would be fun. The whole idea of being the center of attention, going to the office and everyone in school knowing. Everyone thought it would be cool."

And they clearly had no fear.

Such assaults and accusations are a teacher's nightmare and are getting more frequent.

"It's a regular occurrence that students are charging teachers with some form of abuse, whether it be physical or sexual," Susan Russell, the chief lawyer for the Maryland State Teachers Association, told the Post.

What she says next is frightening: "Kids haven't developed their full ethical code. And times have changed. There's less respect for elders in general, parents and teachers."

The key point in this quote is that "times have changed." That is probably the most frequently exploited explanation nowadays to justify the moral anarchy of "these times." On my radio program, people ask, with an attitude ranging somewhere from innocence to arrogance, why it is wrong to intentionally or negligently create fatherless children; to shack up with successive partners with small children in tow; to divorce and then relocate to start new love lives, marriage and families with hardly a glance backward; to assign strangers to parent toddlers and newborns because of career ambition (and not the desperation of survival); to eliminate a firm foundation of religion for the children because of interfaith(less) marriages; or to indulge children's every whim while being too busy to meet every need.

When there is even a question about why these behaviors are wrong or injurious to children, then you know why "these times" are breeding children right out of "L-rd of the Flies."

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