The main point of the essay is violence in our schools. Now, more than ever, violence in all grades, even elementary is on the rise.
Just last year, 64% of elementary school principals in five Massachusetts cities-Boston, Springfield, Worcester, Lowell, and New Bedford-suspended or expelled violent students. In high school and middle school the figure was close to 96%. In eight public schools, 26 or more students were dismissed for carrying weapons or being violent.
The good news, these city schools do offer a wide array of programs and activities aimed at preventing or resolving violent behavior. Conflict resolution programs are very popular in elementary, middle, and high schools. In addition, especially in the high and middle schools, there are peer-mediation programs, programs to combat hatred and racism, and community volunteers to serve as tutors and mentors.
But, after-school programs are offered by 90% of the high schools and 96% of the middle schools, only 14% of the elementary schools sponsor programs.
Therefore kindergarten through fifth grade is without opportunities for wholesome experiences and activities. Because they generally do not begin supervised activities until the middle-school years and have not become part of the students' daily routine. By the time the students enter in adolescence they may be unwilling to participate in activities.
In most urban high schools and middle schools some after-school activities are restricted to students who are in academic good standing, haven't been troublesome in the classroom, have economic resources, and can fine transportation home. In 95% of the schools offering after-school activities, one or more restrictions are placed on the students' eligibility to participate. As a result, students most lacking in healthy alternatives after classes end, those who are poor, alienated are less likely to participate.
Major reasons why so many schools impose eligibility requirements for participating in afternoon programs are the lack of economic resources. Another reason has to do with defining of the administrators themselves, who fail to recognize after-school programs as violence or conflict prevention measures. The view activities as a privilege extended to deserving students, those students who are achievement oriented, compliant, and well behaved.
Violent crimes committed by teenagers occur between 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Most teenagers do not have the full-time parental supervision; they live in a two income family or in a single-parent household.
My reaction and opinion is this; the system has to change. There are to many kids that need supervision and structure. It is not the child's fault that society has become so out of tune that they have to fend for themselves at the age of seven. We need to teach our children to grow up and be responsible adults. Society needs to help with the underprivileged, either way you look at it the community will pay, whether it is an after school program or jail.