You make the call…kind of…


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If you were a police officer assigned to a school and a young lady refuses to leave the room when asked by several school teachers and workers, what would you do? How would you handle it?

OK, you may want to take a moment to think about that. Granted, the officer had no time to think this specific issue through. However, when assigned to the school, he should have determined within himself the way he would respond to complete disregard to authority. That was what he was there to handle.

Or, you would expect the school to have a standard policy for disregard for authority. Nonetheless, there is no excuse for what happened.

Obviously, the girl had drawn a line in the sand. “You can’t make me do anything! I am staying right here! Whatcha gonna to do about it?”

For those of us who love to work with, and love, youth, this is something for which we are going to have to prepare to face. With eroding home structures, permissive parents who prefer being a friend when kids need parents, and a generation often given to the concept of entitlement, despite the promise of “new discipline techniques” practiced for over 40 years, this will be far too common of an issue. Are we ready?

The authorities have to worry about a spark becoming a flash-fire. One student disrespecting authority in front of other students typically does not bring out the best behavior in the group. The pressure to end such rebellion quickly can blind us to the best solution.

Students, however, can connect the dots better than we give the credit. They can connect the distant consequences to current actions if we, the authorities, simply point it out.

To me, the best approach is to remind the rebellious student that they can win the moment and lose the war. This girl was not going to sit in that chair for the rest of her life. Eventually, she would have given up and left the room. She needed to be reminded that the worse consequences are those unforeseen ones in the future.

At the end of the day, the girl would have been at home. The authorities could have explained to the other students that the girl would eventually leave and the consequences were becoming increasingly worse. There would be a tomorrow. There would be a next week. The girl’s decisions today would impact her life for a long time.

Perhaps a class period would have been ruined. Lesson plans would have stopped until she left. But they were lost anyway, right? But tomorrow the girl would not be there to disrupt.

Once the officer made the confrontation an issue that was going to be settled “here and now”, things turned ugly. Authorities, who are supposed to have a long-term view for education and lessons, failed to reinforce the idea that the long-term approach was more significant. A teaching opportunity was lost and the consequences now are on the other side.

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