Arrested: Story Was One-Sided

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We have recognized in a few of the children that a difficult home life leads them to seek attention at school through negative behavior. Put yourself in the shoes of a teacher sometime and try to imagine the frustration on a day to day basis of trying to teach and daily being interrupted by children whose need for attention disrupts the entire class agenda

[Letters To The Editor]

I read the article about the five year old who after having a tantrum was taken by police in Florida [Krazed Kindergarten Kops, April 26th]. While I can certainly appreciate your feelings concerning the idea of a five year old being handcuffed and taken away by police, I did think your article was perhaps quick to make a lot of assumptions. I  live in Canada and I am not blind to the horror of racism. I am white and have been blessed to be raised by parents who taught me to love my neighbor and respect all ethnic cultures and people regardless of skin color, religion, or status in society. What was missing for me in your article was the background digging on why the child was videotaped. You see my wife is a teacher of grade four and five  with children from all backgrounds. A third of her class is all Canadian and many of the other two thirds have not mastered English as a second language.

One thing I have learned from being in her classroom is that skin color has very little to do with bad behavior from children. Some of the children have an incredible ability to change their behavior when it suits them at the drop of a hat. We have recognized in a few of the children that a difficult home life leads them to seek attention at school through negative behavior. Put yourself in the shoes of a teacher sometime and try to imagine the frustration on a day to day basis of trying to teach and daily being interrupted by children whose need for attention disrupts the entire class agenda. Imagine trying to explain a child’s daily behavior patterns to a disbelieving parent who thinks the teacher ,the class and the school are really the problem.

My wife's class has kids from Iraq, Poland, Vietnam, Bosnia, China, Uganda and other countries I'm not sure of. All the kids are beautiful and many are a handful. My wife has always taken a firm but fair approach. Recently one of the kids in the class was suspended from school for 20 days for kicking the principal (after swearing profusely to other kids, teachers and the principle himself ). On being escorted from the office he then chose to spit at the secretary on the way out. That child needs help. But he also needs to be accountable for his choices and behaviors. My point is simply this. I am always suspicious of anything I read that only looks at one side of any issue. I do not condone unnecessary force when dealing with children and I think from where I sit handcuffing a five year old seems extreme. But I have been able to watch children with bi-polar disorders go from a calm quiet child to a raging hysterical animal capable of inflicting injury on themselves and others. You have accused some of the networks of racist tones and I can't judge or disagree, but I would respectfully suggest that the written word also has the power to incite more hatred, hostility and revenge. Truth presented with peace has been proven effective by Martin Luther King and Gandhi. Two great men whose legacy lives on today! 

Peace, respect for one another comes from changed hearts. Hearts cannot be changed in courtrooms or senates. It is a spiritual matter. Each of us can make small daily contributions to changing our world for the better. I would encourage you to always look for ways to mend and heal, to look for hope in a story. Every story has two sides, I hope you will always take the time to investigate the whole issue before putting it to print. My hope is that you don't take offence to my opinion but see it as only that, my opinion.  You are no doubt passionate about bringing change to the injustices that pollute the greatness of America. I wish you success in that pursuit!
 
By Robert Nowell
robertnowell@cogeco.ca

Readers can submit letters on any topic to letters@blackstarnews.com Call 212-481-7745 to subscribe to the newsstand edition of the newspaper.

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