The problem is bigger than you think

So there’s this story, about the elderly, hearing impaired woman who was bullied and harassed by students on the bus she drove.  The story’s gone viral – people have been understandably outraged. But a few things about this story seem to be getting overlooked.  Really, they’re things about the school systems in this country in general, about our attitudes toward children and elderly and people. 

1.Kids should not be riding to school for more than 15-20 minutes.  It’s just not a reasonable expectation, and it’s a recipe for problems to break out.  But because of the changes that happened when schools were integrated, because not all schools in public system are equally good or well-funded and run, kids are often traveling for HOURS just to get to school. In Boston, it’s not unusual for kids to sit on the school bus for 1-2 hours in the morning and afternoon.  It’s a wonder shit like this doesn’t happen every day here.

2. Parents are working too hard outside the home.  What a difference it would make if all employers had to allow parents flexibility in hours so they could be there to take their kids to school, and pick them up? And to allow them to not have to put their kids in after schools every day.  What a difference it would make if parents got to spend more time with their kids.

3. Parents aren’t working hard enough in the home.  This may be related to #2 -maybe they’re exhausted. But too many parents minimize when their kids are inappropriate or hurtful to others, especially when they’re boys.  Kids need to know where the limits are. And if we don’t want to have a society of abusers, we need to start teaching kids that abusive behavior is not OK.

4. That being said, these are still kids. They are not hardened criminals.  Which one among us hasn’t done something stupid when we were kids? The idea of adults mocking or doubting the sincerity of the students’ apologies — well, that just makes me as sick as the original incident itself.  We need to model a culture of forgiveness if we expect people to take responsibility for themselves and try to change their behavior. What motivation do people have to change if you’re already vilified them? 

5. Finally, WOW to the amount of money that has been raised for the bus monitor’s “vacation fun” or whatever it’s being called.  Over $400K? I wish I had made that kind of money in my whole lifetime. And while I appreciate people being moved by the story and wanting to reach out, I can’t help thinking it’s a little misplaced.  There are organizations out there that are trying to improve schools and help young people – perhaps all the people who have donated to the mistreated bus monitor could explore the options in their own communities to make things better on a much bigger scale. 


~ by realsupergirl on June 22, 2012.

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