Help and Healing for North Babylon High School

What could you do to help at North Babylon High School? It is the school down the street from me. And, I am going to have to turn my attention there. You may recall a few years ago there was an attack of a student recorded on youtube. Recently, there have been a series of threats and hate incidents. Time to think. Time to help. What can you do? Will accept: ideas, prayers, volunteer hours, organizations that want to pitch in. Please post in comment section and/or sent to my e-mail at kimberlywilder06 at yahoo dot com.

News story is at Newsday: here. With excerpt at bottom.

First of all, I know that large schools make life harder on students. Large schools make it more difficult to build community, more likely students will identify each other as “strangers” or label them in certain clicks, and less cozy and secure. Children deserve a smaller school setting. And, when the district doesn’t have a small school, they can take organizational measures to fix it in some way (scheduling students in blocks, etc.) Maybe people should think of that as long-term, proactive measure.

As adults, we could counsel students on creating harmony and rejecting prejudice. Hope any North Babylon School District parents that might read this will have a deep discussion with their teenagers about accepting all people.

From the newspaper stories I am reading, the district is doing everything wrong to create harmony again. They are creating oppressive security measures, such as having students wear id’s around their neck and getting backpacks checked. There are probably 1 to 5 students who are doing things wrong and deserve to be monitored. The other hundreds of students are victims, and the district is creating more fear and discomfort in their lives. That may only perpetuate the cycle.

Here are some ideas for the district to do to take drastic, positive, proactive measures:

-Quickly invite in someone to do anti-bullying/pro-tolerance programs. Perhaps starting with a schoolwide assembly.

-Invite someone in to teach the students Non-Violent Communication (NVC). It appears that some of the crimes are happening because students are expressing themselves in an acting out way, rather than having been able to talk and be listened to.

-Think of serious ways to address underlying racial hostilities among the grown-ups and students. I went to a school board meeting at North Babylon when the budget had failed. There was a huge sense of parents there who had white privileged attitudes. And, in addition, white members of the school board who appeared to be blaming the budget going down on black school board candidates and a flyer delivered in the black community. I saw the racism of the grown-ups first hand. So, that has to be dealt with before the students will behave.

-The North Babylon School District is very diverse. They should accept that fact and constantly work on ways of making all students feel welcome. They should hire more teachers of color, and more administrators of color. Besides making the students of color feel welcome and appreciated, having teachers of color will reveal to white students the humanity of all people.

-The school district should consider inviting in a non-profit agency or church that is willing to have pre-screened grown-up chaperones to patrol the halls on breaks. Our students should not all be hoveled up somewhere, separate from adult society, being miserable and afraid. The way the school is addressing it now is to shut down. It might be more helpful to open up.

-Kimberly Wilder
North Babylon School District voter and tax-payer

P.S. Do I have to go down there and hug every single one of those children myself????? (Of course, I would need a pass…)

(excerpt from Newsday story)
Security beefed up at N. Babylon High

BY JOHN VALENTI | john.valenti at newsday dot com
10:02 AM EST, November 6, 2008

Security was stepped up at North Babylon High School Thursday morning, a day after students were released early following the discovery of a threat of violence scrawled on a girls’ bathroom stall.

Backpacks were searched and bathrooms were monitored after the latest incident involving a series of recent threats, racial epithets and messages of hate found at the school.

On Thursday, students were being required to wear identification cards at all times around their necks and staff members were being posted at bathrooms, where students are being required to sign in, spokeswoman Colleen Bowler said.

No incidents have been reported Thursday, Bowler said.

The latest incident in a rash of recent threat-incidents dating back more than one week occurred Wednesday, when students were evacuated from the high school and taken by bus to Belmont Lake State Park following a threat discovered on a stall in a girls bathroom shortly after 8 a.m….

4 Responses

  1. students were always required to wear ID tags but th policing of such was enforced.

  2. […] help students feeling aggressive, isolated, or violent. See my thoughts and previous post: here and […]

  3. Bullying thrives in Robert Moses middle school, the bully’s and violent kids think they are funny and joking. They are back in school after only 5 days suspension. May be if the bad kids recieved more of a punishment and the school switched the bullies into other classes instead of the victem they would be repeat offenders. The school it seems, is affraid of the bully’s parents and they hide the bullys punishment so other kids think there are no consequences. They tell the kids to speak up but then don’t do enough to prevent it from happening again! This is the 5th time my daughter was physically hurt and the school let the kids right back in! Translation: no significant consequences!

    • Thanks for sharing your story.

      There must be a lot of pain in having one’s child in a place where there is violence and bullying.

      Having been an education advocate, I don’t agree entirely with your solution of increasing the punishment for bullies.

      I don’t think the bullies need “more punishment”. I think that the bullies need more appropriate consequences, and better education/therapy. When someone is a bully, the school system should do its best to test the kids for any kind of educational or psychological problems that student has. Unfortunately, many administrators are too cheap or mean-spirited to truly want to reach out to “bullies” in need.

      Also, another problem is the culture of schools. Not just North Babylon. But, in most schools, there is such a hierarchy. Teachers are to students at school, like low-pay workers are to bosses at work, and like domestic servants are to rich people in the world. If our schools (and our culture) was more compassionate and egalitarian, there would be less energy for angst, violence, and bullying.

      A truly good school system could fix bully problems by educating and nurturing students.

      One “thinking outside the box with compassion” example of this kind of thing is to re-merge the world of the adults and students in a school to be less like “the elite teachers” and “the lowly children”. Encourage/persuade teachers to give their whole selves to students by having every adult in the school have a homeroom, and be in charge of checking in with the students each day. Have bathrooms for teachers and students together, so that teachers can talk to students, and be part of their community. Have students do tasks such as hall duty that make students feel important and have leadership. Changing things up like this is a better and more proactive approach than simply increasing punishment when things happen.

      Another kind of solution is to create “small schools”. (Even if it is not done physically, you can do it in a bigger school, by having “sections”.

      When schools are too big, the students become anonymous strangers in the hallway. This leads to cliques, stereotyping, and bullying. If we had smaller schools, or at least schools where sets of students were grouped together during the day, we would build the bridges of intimacy that human beings need to act civilized.

      You should consider taking your reflections and caring and turning it in to action. Think about studying ways to solve bullying. Present a proposal to your school board to join an anti-bullying program. Join the PTA and see if other parents have ideas about ways to help. You can help solve the problem.

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