Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Kid Violence

White Bear's recent post is a good one, so I want to send you there -- that's the main reason I'm posting today at all, given how queasy I'm feeling (these antibiotics, I do not want) but also because reading the post reminded me of an event in my freshman comp classroom recently.

We've been working on evaluating sources, which, yikes. First, I discover that the students don't know what a Leftist is. They're not kidding. We're reading an essay by Mike Males, it's published in Mother Jones, I tell them that this venue is a bit leftist.

"Leftist," one of them says. "What is that?"

"Like...liberal." I study them. "Progressive? To the left side of the political spectrum?"

Their eyes are blank as empty fountains, except for my older student, the one who has come back to school on a TAA grant, who looks faintly amused at my shock and horror.

Anyway. Anyway.

The essay by Males talks about the root of violence in America, how violence doesn't come from kids watching violent TV shows or listening to rap music; violence is caused by violence being done to and around children. They get violent things done to them and they see violent things done to their siblings and parents, they'll grow up to act violently.

(Males' Webpage)

Anyway, of course this they could get a grip on: I had not mentioned, not had Males, their own parents beating the shit out of them with belts and sticks through all their childhood years, but their minds leapt there. Hands went up around the room: If you don't hit kids, then --!

Yes, then?

"Well, have you ever seen a kid that don't get beat?" One student asked me. "Have you ever seen how those kids behave--"

I usually put forth my own child here, but I didn't have to this time: one of the students in the class raised her hand. "Me," she said.

They stared at her like she was a viper.

"My parents never hit me," she said.

I let that sit a moment.

Then I said, "You can raise children without hitting them. Other methods of discipline exist."

"Yep," the girl in the middle row agreed. It didn't hurt none, BTW, that she was smart, charming, outspoken, goodlooking.

"That's not really what we're doing here, though," I added, "looking at content -- remember? We're evaluating this as a source."

They burned. They seethed. They stewed. They had to prove to me that it was vital that children get beaten, that it has to be that way, that GOD WANTS IT THAT WAY.

And it can't be changed!!

1 comment:

A White Bear said...

Oh, Lord. Yeah, this is one of those topics that you bring up and the kids who didn't get hit just cannot believe how weird it is that other kids get struck for not being nice babies, while the ones who did get hit did not even realize that your limbs could grow and you could graduate from grade to grade without the power of ass-whuppin. And the latter group will defend violence against children even more strongly than they defend the Bible. I'm glad you suggested it to them. Luckily, (I think) the learning curve on this issue can be pretty steep.