Acceptance and punishments

[Just read this on CNN.com](http://www.cnn.com/2005/US/09/14/school.fight.ap/index.html):

>HOUSTON, Texas (AP) — A fight between a group of displaced New Orleans students and their new classmates at a Houston high school ended with three teenagers hospitalized and five under arrest Tuesday.

>The morning fight at Jones High School started after a student from Houston threw a soft drink can into a group of New Orleans students, a school district spokesman said.>One student from New Orleans was treated for facial injuries, and two Houston teens were treated for face and rib injuries. In all, 20 to 25 students got involved.

>Terry Abbott, a spokesman for the Houston Independent School District, said that sort of behavior would not be tolerated.>”The quickest way to earn a ticket out of Jones High School and into detention is to hurt one of those students from New Orleans,” Abbott told the Houston Chronicle.

I know that there are two sides to every story. For all we know, a student from New Orleans “started it.” These are high school students…detention?!? Come on! What’s next? A time-out? Going to bed without their supper? What if the Houston students involved in the fight are sent to a shelter to do some community service instead? Good stuff, like cleaning the toilets or doing laundry.

We’re talking about people who were marginalized before the storm hit, this can’t help.Reminds me of a conversation I had with Emily last year. There was a boy in her first grade class that was giving her a bit of a hard time. Nothing major…sticking his tongue out at her, making dirty faces, etc. He had been having a lot of discipline problems in school. One day, he said to Emily, “You don’t like black people, do you?” This is a 7 year old! Emily didn’t know how to answer that question. What she told me she said was, “I like black people.” And she then listed all of her friends that had brown skin, as she calls it. She told him, “I don’t like you because you…” and she told him about all the times that he was mean to her, or made faces at her.

When Emily told me this I complimented her on how she handled it, but then I also reminded her that this boy’s parents recently got divorced and he hasn’t seen his Dad in a while. He lives in a not-so-nice part of town and things are really hard for him compared to how her life is going. I wasn’t making excuses, it was a reason. So I told her to remember that when he says mean things and does mean things, it may be because he’s really scared and upset inside. I told her that she doesn’t have to like him or be his friend if she doesn’t want to be, but she should understand that if he didn’t have all those other things going on he probably wouldn’t be so mean and she shouldn’t go out of her way to be mean back.

I only have to hope that when she’s in high school and goodness forbid there are students in her school under similar circumstances as what is going on in Houston, she remembers what I tried to teach her. Too bad those parents in Houston obviously didn’t have an opportunity for a similar lesson.

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