Saturday, August 11, 2007

12 years in public schools: part II

Here's something else Kelly mentioned in her series: being accused of 'sheltering her children too much'. So, let's ask ourselves: is throwing a child into a sinful, rebellious and ungodly environment in any way beneficial for the child's development, education and good sense of judgment? Again, allow me to share my personal experience.

In our school, having a close relationship with your parents and/or siblings was something to be ashamed of, and nobody wanted to admit that. By the time we were in the end of junior high, you'd be embarrassed to admit you've never had a boyfriend. By the end of highschool… yes, that's right! Only 2 girls in my class were virgins, and they were considered 'weirdos'. Some had abortions when they were 13. Some even more than once. The more I think about it, the more heartbreaking this is.

And wait, I didn't even get to the fun part: getting drunk and partying! I remember how once when I was in 7-th grade, a boy and a girl from my class were caught, drunk more than you can imagine, behind the classroom building. They… shared a whole bottle of vodka between the two of them! That's right. 13-year-old children. During school hours. When they were supposed to be in class. This is just incredible, isn't it? By the time I was in highschool, half of the students in my class tried drugs at least once. And even the 'good kids' frequented 'innocent' parties, which consisted of girls in flashy, immodest outfits, wearing too much makeup, mingling with boys, unsupervised, with lots of alcohol; music which today I would consider dangerous; and dancing the type of dances during which boys tried to touch every part of the girls' bodies they could reach. The 'dating' couples hid in shadowy corners for more intimacy, and the ones that 'went steady' locked themselves in the bathroom for hours and… I'll spare us the details!

Some argue and say that this is 'the real world', and therefore children must face it. Yes, sadly, in our culture this is often the prevalent situation. And our children should probably know it is. But here's what I disagree with: I don't think our children should 'face' it in the way of being thrown into an immoral and ungodly environment while their minds and souls are immature. I remember myself at 13. I was an intelligent young person, and even quite sensible for my age. But I don't see how a 13-year-old can be expected to have the judgment of his or her parents, a judgment that can only be developed after growing up, learning and maturing. Should we let children get their minds soaked with sinful and rebellious attitude? Should we let them make every possible mistake, thinking it will help them mature more quickly? I don't think so! If no one protects the hearts, souls and minds of children, if no one safely guides them until they can deal with the world without being immersed in sin, then hey, what are parents for?


Kelly said...

Oh my, so it has gotten much worse since I was in high school, the 80's, and it was bad even then. Not far off from what you discribe though.

I too don't understand this attitude of "well this is the real world so kids have to deal with it". You just can't expect a child to "deal with" this stuff when they are barely equiped to dress themselves.

Your last line is so right. What are parents for if not to protect their children.

Mrs. Brigham said...

My sister and I were only two years apart in school and things got might interesting between my senior year and hers. I can only speak of our local school system, but the atmosphere is really going downhill quickly right now and that frightens me. The huge problem of my freshmen year was several teenage pregnancies, but just last year one of the local schools had a gang fight, complete with knives, that resulted in the death of a non-gang member student.

While I do think there is a balance between "sheltering" children and throwing them to the wolves, I do not feel that the current public school climate in my area is a place where I would want my children to learn of the "real" world. The same also goes with our local private schools that are just as sinful and worldly, especially in the older grades. Children can learn of the "real world" sadly through just walking about in the world beyond their homes. I think witnessing bad situations is a good time to have a discussion with children and impart knowledge about why certain behaviors are bad and what said behaviors can lead to. I also think such situations are a good time to teach children how to flee and get out of sticky situations in the future.

The "real world" argument always baffles me a bit. I personally think it is far more important my children learn to relate to others from differing backgrounds, circumstances, and age groups than it is for them to embrace their peer's questionable activities. The "real world" requires us not to just face sin, but to face many different people who have different personalities, ideas, and beliefs than us. The "real world" also requires children to have common sense about money matters, etiquette, taking care of themselves, home repair, yada, yada. The notion that the "real world" is just the nasty behaviors a child may be exposed to in public schools really does not make sense to me.

Dora said...

Anna, I hope I don't offend you when I say that by my definition, you're a feminist (and I consider that a compliment).
You chose your own path in life, chose what's right for you and you're acting on that decision.
You do not consider yourself weak, feeble-minded or incapable.
You respect yourself and you respect others around you.
Good for you!

H. said...

So true!

Kathleen said...

Hmm. Christian children can certainly be a light to others, but like you said, do we really want our children in such an environment? Letting our children be light in darkness and deliberately putting them in environments where they will be exposed to severe immorality are two different stories, I think.

king's_daughter said...

What do we mean by the "real world"? If we're honest, no male, when he goes off to the workforce, has to face what children are facing in public schools! Now, granted, there may be some worldliness and immaturity in differnt jobs, but certainly not to the same degree. The same applies to women.

Also, I've heard many people say that they want to send their children to school to witness to the other children. While I'll agree that the Lord may allow some children to know the Lord because of another child's witness in school, it is only because the Lord is gracious and merciful and can make the best out of a bad situation! Would we send little Johnny to Africa to convert the natives...all by himself? With other 10-year-olds?

I have never been to school, but yet I know of the evil things that are talked about and done; imagine how much more my mind would be soiled if I actually attended school!

Amanda said...

Yes I have many bad memories of school too! In KINDERGARTEN I had boys asking me to have s*x with them, and the teacher thought it was FUNNY!!! And that is only tip of the ice burg unfortunatly :o(

Alexandra said...

Children are not adults, so why they should be expected to deal with adult issues and behaviors baffles me. I'm not sure how being exposed to drug and alcohol abuse, and promiscuity will help when you are older?? If anything seeing everyone do it normalizes that behavior!

No thanks, I'll shelter my children. Things in our school weren't as bad as you describe when I went to high school in the 80's, and I really don't feel like I missed out. I don't feel like my "sheltered" childhood warped me. ;)

These type of "real world" experiences could hinder a person later on in life. I'd rather my children not be exposed to STDs and substance abuse issues just so they can learn to deal with the "real world". That's not the real world unless you plan to live a dysfunctional lifestyle. School is not the real world.

Anna S said...

Dear Dora,

Thank you for your encouragement, but I think we disagree a bit on the definitions :) ... I will address this in one of my future posts, I think.

You don't have to be a feminist to be a strong, capable, intelligent and respectable woman.

Look at the Proverbs 31 woman. Not a feeble-brained weakling, certainly? Yet most certainly not a feminist either :)

Oh, and another something: while I'm very happy with the path I took, it wasn't just a works-for-me decision. I studied what *God* calls us women to do, and chose to follow His ways.

I'll expand on this one in a future post, definitely *hear my brain rolling* :P

Anonymous said...

I think a sheltered child is more capable of growing up free and innocent, not becoming cynical before their time, able to continue being a child longer.

Hmm...that puts me in mind for a post on the early death of childhood and the paradox of "Kidults" who never want to grow-up. Someday.

God Bless!

USAincognito said...

I think there is a big difference between "sheltering" and "ignorance."

Anonymous said...

I read this yesterday, but didn't have a chance to formulate a decent comment. I think your last sentence, Anna, sums up very nicely what our job as mothers & fathers is..."then what are parents for?" If not to protect & guide them,....what?

I also like what Mrs. Brigham said about the whole notion of the "real world" being thrust upon our children. Why is it that so many think the real world consists of only ugliness, the worst of human character, the lowest & most base of experiences? If that's the only definition of real, what am I showing my offspring? Am I living in a fantasy, & teaching them the same, by creating beauty in their lives? I find myself becoming increasingly annoyed by those who would have me immerse my children in filth, put them square in the path of danger, & make sure they have their daily dose of media trash, just so I can be certain they're ready for "The Real World". No thank you.


Anna S said...

Indeed, Brenda... I don't think all this ugliness and filth are the real world, either. And in any case, I say 'no thank you'.

Anonymous said...

First, let me say that we are in support of homeschooling--I mean we must be since we homeschool our own children!
However, please allow me to address a statement that concerns me.

King's Daugher said:
" Would we send little Johnny to Africa to convert the natives...all by himself? "
I would like to respectfully mention to King's Daughter that there are many people residing on the continent of Africa, in many of it's numerous countries, who are conservative Christians. Very conservative, in fact. Often their views are even more conservative than those in the Americas or Europe. In fact, visitors from Ethiopia and Nigeria have been appaled by the lack of modesty in American dress!
I'd like to imagine that King's Daughter is aware of this and simply didn't have the time to be more precise with her comment.

Anna S said...

Anonymous, I don't think King's Daughter meant to be offensive.

But yes, I agree with you. I know from experience Ethiopian traditions are very conservative and respectful, and they have a wonderful culture.

Songbird said...

I hope you don't mind me commenting. I know what it is like to be in public school. While I didn't party, drink and smoke at all, there were conversations that I wish I have not heard over at times. High school and middle school were not so bad but it can be overwhelming.

Bethanie said...

Did we go to school together?
Just wanted you to know that I identify with your past in many ways.

Anna S said...

Hi Bethanie! Great to hear from you again :))

And no, I don't think we went to school together, but what I described happens in many schools!