They Don’t Notice Me When I’m Sad
Why do we have kids killing other kids by opening fire in a cafeteria or classroom? Why is teen suicide one of the highest causes of student deaths in our country? Why are students in our schools using profanity for everyday chats, posting sexual videos on SnapChat or texting sexually explicit photos and videos. Maybe it is because “They don’t notice me when I’m sad”.
The high school student who wrote this sentence as part of a plea for his public school IEP committee to send him back to The Harbour School, a non-public special school for children with disabilities was desperate and accurate in his concerns about the public school. The high school in question is widely considered one of the 2-3 best in the school district. Its students are “good kids” from “good families”. The student parking lot is filled with late model nice vehicles. Yet here is the critique from a student.
“When the teachers are teaching, I can’t understand what they are saying because they are going too fast. Whenever I tell the teachers that something is bothering me they rarely solve the problem or do nothing at all.” Unfortunately, the teachers have a schedule to keep. They cannot slow down or postpone progress. The school pacing guides are designed so that all of the material will be covered by the time the school schedule dictates the state tests will be held. “They don’t notice me when I’m sad”.
“The students are disruptive and I think they aren’t following the school rules. They are swearing a lot and I don’t like the way the girls are dressed. They wear clothes that expose body parts, it makes me feel disgusted.” I am sure that swearing and dressing inappropriately are contrary to the school behavior code and to the dress code. The problem is neither of these guides has any meaning at all unless school personnel enforce them. So why don’t they? There are multiple reasons. People just don’t want the aggravation that goes with enforcing school discipline. Parents will show up and support the misbehavior of the student and blame the teacher. Teachers will be accused of being culturally insensitive, so why bother. It used to be if a teacher had to call out a student for any behavior, the student knew that there would be another price to pay once he or she got home. Not anymore. Now the family is as likely to take the student’s side as not, because frankly, enforcing discipline is hard and there is going to be push back and, well, families just don’t have the time. “They don’t notice me when I’m sad.”
“The kids make me feel like they are all above me. I don’t feel safe and I feel like I don’t belong here. I feel bad for the kid from my media production class, the kid who committed suicide. I think he felt what I am feeling here overwhelmed, disappointed and frightened”
Violence is becoming endemic in our schools. Suicide is now the second leading cause of death among adolescents in the U.S. Maybe it is time we noticed when our kids feel sad.