Safe Haven

Sometimes I can’t believe what our kids have to deal with yet they just seem to accept it. Probably none of  the following will be news to you.  It’s just that hearing about how our students’ lives have changed (in the few short years since my own kids were in high school) had an impact on me today. It is a horrible fact of life that a safe place for learning in secular schools only seems to occur with a great deal of effort.  It’s more amazing that these procedures are taken in stride. 

Today I visited an Introduction to Talmud class, and the conversation was about personal responsibility.  The following incidents that students mentioned were not meant to be the ‘meat’ of the discussion, but were casually inserted like a side order of fries. When I seemed surprised to hear some of the stuff, the response was “it’s no big deal” and “it’s just what happens”.

One student who attends a large high school told me that when kids come to school late, she thinks that they may be carrying a knife or a gun since they missed the screening in the beginning of the day. There was a killing that occurred when she was in middle school (MIDDLE SCHOOL) and from time to time she thinks about it.  This is not an inner city school. Two students at two other schools mentioned that there were fights in the cafeteria just last week.  A student mentioned that whatever you carry in the hallway has to be made of clear plastic because there was a gun problem. Another student said that entering school is not unlike checking into an airport: body scans and bags on the conveyor belt.  This was at a school with a ‘solid’ reputation.

I write this not so  much for you, because as I said, these things may not be news.  But for me, it is a stark reminder of how much harder we need to work to make sure that every single space we create for our students in the time they’re with us needs to be a safe haven from the commotion outside.

About Ruth Schapira

I am a Jewish Educator of teens, interested in changing paradigms of Jewish high school education, incorporating strategic and creative initiatives and collaboration with like-minded organizations. Interested in creating new educational opportunities for Jewish teens using best practices and networking tools. View all posts by Ruth Schapira

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