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Alert: Need healing, conflict resolution and community reflection at North Babylon High School

KW: There are many angles to look at the recent news at North Babylon High School:

A teenager who attends North Babylon High School was injured when a pipe bomb he was creating at his home blew up. The teenager is reported to have material related to the Columbine incident at his home. And, now, North Babylon public high school is on modified lockdown with possible backpack checks. The story at the Daily News is: here.

Egads. Time to wake up the community to some healing action…

This story resonates with me a lot, because in about November 2008, when there were other problems reported at North Babylon High School, a small group of us started thinking of a group to create more harmony at North Babylon High. Our list included conflict resolution training – the kind of thing that could proactively help students feeling aggressive, isolated, or violent. See my thoughts and previous post: here and below.

I do hope the district takes serious stock of recent patterns at the school, and does something profound and positive to address it. (It was students from North Babylon who beat up a young woman and then posted a video of the attack at youtube.) After awhile, you need to take stock of the energy and karma of a place.

An onthewilderside post from November, 2008:

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 [about bomb threats in 2008] 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….

2 Responses

  1. Something with those stories didn’t sit right with me. I agree that the schools need to focus on dealing with the problems and not just blanket the entire community with restrictions and impositions. Great article. I support you and hope that the district takes to heart your ideals.

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