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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Why kids in school fight

From CNN a short video (apparently a series of reports) on violence as experienced by teens in High School. Violence is about surviving where you live as well as surviving the traditional jockeying for position on the high school totem pole. This view of their reality suggests that until that reality is adjusted, they will continue to fight, represent, and avoid being punked. In this Chicago school, leadership training seems to be having an effect on individual responses, but not on the reality of having to carry a weapon.

Airick Leonard West recently conducted a 3 day session on leadership to deter bullying at one of the local KCMSD schools. He worked with 6th, 7th, and 8th graders at one school to change the dynamics of the pecking order and improve communications and options when faced with an escalating situation.

But as the CNN piece suggests, when kids come from poor neighborhoods where there is no strong future of prosperity, where adults are not modeling supportive behavior, and where survival is a daily concern, we can expect that kids will do whatever they are inclined to believe they have to do. They may be making incorrect assumptions, based on a perspective from outside their environment. But from the inside, to them, it seems reasonable, plausible, and defensible. You play be the rules of the environment in which you live. If you do not go beyond the boundaries of that place, if you are challenged when you do go beyond those boundaries, if you are unwelcome outside those boundaries, then you will continue to live by the rules of your boundaries.

Then check out this other CNN story about a teacher that cuts off the braid of a 6 year old girl in front of the class because she kept twirling it. The teacher appologized later and said she was "frustrated." The school declined to take the teacher out of the classroom. Those are rules of an environment in which these kids are learning to engage.


1 comment:

Sandy Price said...

whenever i read something like this, i am immediately transported back to the movie, "Holding Ground: the Rebirth of Dudley Street." it took the entire community, working together in an organized, perpetuating way, to push dealers out of their neighborhoods, to create safe spaces for kids to be kids, and to change the dynamics within their boundaries. and that's just a fraction of what they managed to do for themselves. no easy fixes, but not impossible either.