When I was in 6th grade, a poor boy in my class, a boy who came to school every day disheveled and in clothes too small for him, failed a test. Our teacher posted the boy’s test on a bulletin board in the hallway and sent him to other classrooms to recruit an audience to come view his abysmal performance.
A few minutes later, a group of students and teachers crowded around the bulletin board laughing at the boy’s test and, apparently, at the cleverness of the teacher who conceived the plan to publicize it.
My 11-year-old self was enraged – not only at our teacher but at the other adults who stood around approvingly or submissively. Later, I was enraged when I told my parents about it and they didn’t immediately march to the school and demand the resignation of the offending teacher.
A few weeks ago, the sheriff’s department in Worth County, Georgia, descended on the local high school and in an effort to ferret out a few students they thought might have drugs, they searched the entire student body, one-by-one, groping their private parts, special ed students included.
A child’s only defense against this sort of intrusion and outrage is his or her parents. Yet increasingly, children understand that their parents will cower – before law enforcement, school officials and, sadly, before the almighty dollar.
Children are left to wonder at what point their parents will come to their rescue. Not when they’re bullied. Not when they’re failing to learn. Not when they’re mocked or abused by teachers or school personnel, not when school is a place riddled by drugs and violence, not when the sheriff abuses his power, not, not, not…
It’s a sad but true fact that children are vulnerable and there are far too many people in the world ready to take advantage of that for personal pleasure or for profit.
Happy and fortunate are the children whose parents stand between them and those who would abuse or exploit them. May that number of parents grow. May parents be emboldened to be their children’s knights in shining armor. May children know their parents have their backs and won’t leave them injured on the battlefield. May parents grow in courage and righteous indignation in defense of their children.
This is not a game. The fallout from children who grow up undefended, with no strong mom or dad looming behind them like a guardian angel, taking control when they’re threatened, should be evident to everyone – alcohol, drugs, prisons, illiteracy, broken relationships, the list goes on.
If ever there was a need for parents to step up to the plate, it’s today.