I have been visiting a school in my area on a weekly basis for about 2 months now. I meet with a group of remarkable teen moms during their lunch period and share information about resources that are available in the community and to answer questions about parenting and career choices.
I must say these last few weeks have been EXTREMELY eye opening for me. I know our inner city children deal with A LOT but I don’t think I could have ever been prepared for what came my way. The girls were loaded with enthusiasm about life and improving things for their children, HOWEVER the amount of fear that has been created by their environment was pretty alarming. With children being shot ON SCHOOL GROUNDS (not massacre style), the feeling that teachers just don’t seem to understand, familial issues, and add childcare responsibilities on top off that, how can we expect our children to have the mental capacity to sit in a class and absorb as much as possible.
During my last day at the school student after student entered our room, which has been a pretty positive space for the last few weeks, with loads of negative energy. WHOA!! What’s going on?!?! What we found out was that basically it’s fighting season. WHAT?!?! Anyone who has be beefin since September is fighting around this time of the year. “But it finales” is what I say. “So!” Was the response. As we dig a bit deeper 2 of our girls decided to walk away from a fight. YESS!! (At least that was my initial feeling). Until one gets called out to leave with a family member only to call another girl in the room to tell her to leave because its been FaceBooked that a group will be coming to the school to jump her so she needs to leave. GASP!! This is very real in so many urban neighborhoods that it is beyond SCARY. To know that only one girl was sent home and that the other was left in the school made me wonder about mediation in school. Next thing I know the school is on LOCKDOWN!! Lights out and move to one side of the room. During finals!! Now lockdown drills are supposed to occur on a monthly basis but have now become a way to clear the halls in the middle of chaos. HUH?!?! In the event of a horrible situation I can only imagine how
serious a lockdown will be taken. To my surprise we received a bunch of knocks from students who left their location during the lockdown and ran back to our space.
Back to mediation apparently mediation means, bring your parents to school, sit in a room together with the police and get threatened to be arrested if you fight! Are you kidding me?! As we talk about mediation and problem doling without violence I realize that our young people don’t see that as an option. People hold on to grudges on top of everything else and are unable to maintain street credit (which is often their protection) without standing their ground even if few people even remember what the beef is about. If you ask me it goes a lot deeper than a beef with another person. It seems as if our young people no longer love themselves enough. I know this can change!!
One of my friends continues to say “violence is a public health issue.” At first I didn’t really understand what she meant but I completely understand what she’s talking about now. Twice we’ve had girls just breakdown hysterically because they saw an RIP shirt of another young person who was killed. Countless times their conversations have mentioned things related to not being able to focus in class because of what just happened in their neighborhoods last night. They’ve also mentioned not being able to talk to anyone at home or school to help them sort out the the pain, trauma, abuse, anxiety, hunger…they feel on an ongoing basis. It is EXTREMELY difficult for one to get through the 12 years of public school if these are the problems they are dealing with daily. And never learning how to deal with this just leads to cycle after cycle of mental and emotional overload!! And we all know what happens when this is the case. So I would have to agree VIOLENCE IS A PUBLIC HEALTH ISSUE!!
Perhaps switching the focus from standardized tests (that studies show don’t do much of anything other than cause more stress for both teachers and students) to self-love, mediation, violence prevention, communication and other topics that are needed to perform as a responsible member of society. Don’t get me wrong, of course time is needed for the other topics BUT if our children are dealing with so many other issues, I believe addressing the distractions may lead to much better scholastic outcomes.
I think of all this as I work with young people in my community AND prepare to enroll my children in some type of learning program. And I must say it gets pretty scary and overwhelming when I hear about what’s happening in so many institutions in our country ESPECIALLY in urban areas. So I ask myself what types of sacrifices do I need to make to homeschool my children and if I choose to do that, how can I continue to advocate for others in my community? AAAHHHH!!
I guess I’ll end my release here. Please share your thoughts on all of this and any experiences you may have had. Oh and let me end on a positive note. As I explained my frustrations with one of my aunts, she reminds me how important it is to celebrate any person who has gotten through a public school system and continues to excel IN SPITE of all the mess they’ve had to endure.
Thanks a bunch for reading my outburst of frustration (excuse the typos because I’m not proofread if this time😉). And please find a way to be a changemaker and putting a smile on someone’s face, even if it just means saying hello. 😄