A frequent statement on this blog from teachers is that parents don’t care. don’t discipline their kids and don’t set rules. But there is a small, subset of parent that overreacts to grades and calls from school by physically punishing kids.
The terrible story of the Meriwether mom who made her 12-year-old kill his pet hamster with a hammer over a bad grade is an example of a dangerous and misguided parental response to a school problem.
Do you worry about those parents and those kids?
I spent a year on a child abuse project early in my career and interviewed many case workers in the New York City area. One familiar scenario was that a student, usually a middle school boy, came home with a poor grade or was involved in a school fight. In either case, the parent was called to the school to meet with the principal or teacher over the son’s bad behavior. Once the parent and child got home, a beating followed. When the boy showed up in class the next day with obvious bruising, someone called DFCS, and social services got involved
I had a cousin up north who taught in one of the roughest high schools in the state, and he told me that he was reluctant to call parents because so many of them responded with rage when their kids did something wrong. He did not want to see a student return to class the day after a conference with a black eye or a bruise. (The teens never blamed the parent, always saying they had fallen or bumped into something.)
An expert on juvenile crime once told me that it is a myth that disruptive, problem teens received no discipline at home. In fact, he said, these kids were usually raised by the fist, the switch and the belt. They were hit all the time, for every small offense. As a result, they learned to respond to every problem with violence.
As teachers, do you worry about some kids, that a call to a parent will only worsen a life that you already suspect has too much rage, too much anger?