Over the last week I have been writing about what I am hearing from people, mostly our youth and it has been affecting me at a core level. I have heard stories of abuse, neglect, loss, violence, and more. Our kids, at least in Detroit are suffering and how we handle them will determine to a large part what they do in their lives.
We all know that home is where it starts, and home is where we as a community need to come together. We also must understand that it is a must-level issue that must be handled as such, we must not point fingers, play the blame game as there is no power in blame. What we need to do is look in the mirror and begin to reflect as parents, educators, city officials, community members, police and the list could go on, as to what each us us can do to affect our community, our children and our future in a positive manner. Then we need to come together and listen to what each of us has to say, and develop a plan of action for each individual community.
As an educator working in the city of Detroit, I see and hear what our youth are going through. Mainly because I ask a simple question…What’s up? Are you ok? Do you want to talk? And because the kids trust me, they often share with me their struggles, and it breaks my heart to hear what they are dealing with on a daily basis.
When a young lady already in tears looks at you and says…”I just want to feel loved, I want my mom to hug me, say she is proud of me…and it never happens.” What do you do, what do you say? Then she tells you that she is having trouble just concentrating in class, staying focused, listening and learning….she is functioning from a mid brain level.
She is not learning effectively because she is in survival mode. Then she goes to school and many times it only gets worse. She is tired, emotionally drained, uncertain of who she is and if she has value in life. She sits in class and puts her head down or her head phones in…the teacher scolds her….she gets defensive and rolls her eyes or makes a comment to the teacher that is inappropriate….She is then written up, or security is call and then sent home or just pushed along until the next class.
This is today May 9, 2018: I am standing in my class, when I see security run by my room. I got out to make sure it is not one of my students or to see if I can help. I follow security into the classroom 2 doors down. When we enter the room there is definite tension. Two big young man were arguing and threatening each other, but at that moment both were seated and quite. Security walks behind one of the boys, they say something to him and then put their hands on him to stand him up and remove him from the room. He is not having it, he shakes their hands off him. Security then places him in a choke hold pushing him onto the desk in front of him. he struggles, the second officer jumps in to help. They end up wresting with him and then throwing him on the floor. The boy is still in a choke hold, he is now gasping for air. I can hear him choking. Security struggles to put handcuffs on him. Once the cuffs are on, they let him go. He sits up and with tears running down his face and says…”You have no idea what I am going through….You have no idea what I am going through.”
This is not the way to help our kids learn. We as Educators, community member, parents need to start rising above the anger, the use of force to deal with our youth. It does not work, it does not teach.
Later in the day when I was asked by the head of security, what I was upset about. He thought I was made about the use of cuffs, which I wasn’t happy about but was not the real issue. I was upset at the way it was handled. Force was not needed. I was then asked did security ask him to get up and come with them? I responded, yes. Did he? No…then what were they suppose to do?
Really? Because he didn’t obey you, that gives you the right to use force. That right there is a problem. He then asked me what would I have done. I said I would have walked bent down and talked with the student. At some point I would have then escorted out of the room. It may take a moment, but because the student knows me and trusts me I believe he would have left the room peacefully. No choke hold, no cuffs, no violence, no suspension.
The students do not trust security…and I understand. To change our culture WE as the ADULTS must model behavior. We are the models for problem solving, self management, coping skills and communication. The teachers, the staff, the administration….EVERY ADULT needs to be that positive model.