By Seth Orkin, CFCC Student Fellow 2010-2011
I have been a volunteer and student fellow in the CFCC’s Truancy Court Program for over the last year. From my tutoring in math to my observations as the student fellow, I have been introduced to a world I did not know and it is nothing like the one I grew up in. I never had to worry about my clothes being clean in the morning or if I would have breakfast. My homework was done after school and my parents always made time to sit down and talk with me about my day. There was no one I was afraid of, no gangs, no bullies and no fighting. There was also no internet, no cell phones and news only traveled as fast as your neighbors could talk. The world was an easier place to grow up in.
Not going to school was never an option. My mom never kept me home because she had a disagreement with my dad. We didn’t move each year. There was consistency and a connection with my school, my teachers, my friends and my life. This is not the case today. As the economy fell apart, families split, communities broke down and the children have suffered almost silently. Parents are no longer at home, having to work 2 jobs or extra hours just to pay the bills. So, the kids can just stay at home if they feel like it. They skip their homework assignments with no one checking on them. The television or video game system has become the babysitter and they are falling behind. If they are having trouble with another student, there is no one to talk to so they keep it to themselves.
Today’s children have to worry about everything. Along with a lack of parental support and parental supervision, social media has exploded. Style is everything and reputations can change in an instant. Being the cool kid has replaced being the smart kid. I have been told on more than one occasion that, “I couldn’t come to school because my hair wasn’t done.” This came from a 7th grader. In 7th grade my biggest worry was getting from class to class in the 5 minutes we were given and remembering my lunch each morning. Style wasn’t much of a thought and my hair was a curly mess.
There were no web-pages dedicated to hating me, pictures of me half dressed being text to everyone in the school or an aunt driving up to me in a McDonald’s parking lot to threaten me for disrespecting their 13 year old niece. Yet, these are the stories I have been reading about and hearing from my students. Each story more horrific then the last and each with one glaring consistency, the parent never knew or the parent wasn’t there. Where were the parents?
We are so quick to blame others in our society. We can never accept that our own inaction could have been at fault. So we blame the school and the teachers. Why didn’t they know? Why didn’t they act? They should have known and they should have done something. It’s everyone else fault and could not have been my own. Then the media portrays the parents as the victims and rests the blame squarely on the schools. They should know better.
Parents need to get back to being parents. Their children need them, the schools need them and the communities need them. In a time of economic unrest and social change, we need to be better parents, active parents. Parents build the bridges between school and home, between the children and teachers. Parents are the only ones who can do this.
When we all work together, our children succeed and we all share in their success.