The Hardness of Children’s Hearts, and the Need for Crowd Control

la-na-thrown-student-south-carolina-20151028-001By now most of you have seen the video of a school officer flipping a student backwards out of her chair because the student refused to leave a classroom, or cooperate with the teacher.  This sparked a huge conversation about who was wrong in the situation, and who should have done what.  My personal belief is the school should have contacted the child’s mother and had her deal with it instead of the deputy getting involved, but he definitely went too far.

Having said that I don’t think people are asking the right question about this situation.  Instead of asking who is to blame?  We should be asking how did we get here?

Perhaps I am thinking about this too deeply, but for me this event illustrates two crucial parts of our broken society:

  1. The misuse of power by those in authority
  2. And in a deeper sense the disrespect of those in authority by children

I’ll be the first person in the world to admit the deputy completely overstepped his bounds here and should be fined.  This is especially true since there had already been allegations of excessive force against students in the past.  Yet this abuse of power took place because one girl refused to leave the classroom.

Should she have flipped her out of the chair?  Absolutely not!  But he wouldn’t have to do that if she had complied with his and teachers request to leave the classroom.

Yes it is scary that police deputies will use this much force to subdue a student.  But it’s also scary that the student defiance played a part in this.  And the scariest thing of all?  We see this defiance in children as young as five!

Being someone who works in many children’s ministries (and loves it) I’ve seen dramatic changes over the years in how kids respond to an authority figure.  In the beginning all it took was a teacher to tell little Johnny or Susie to calm down and they would be okay.  Today that just doesn’t cut it anymore…today you need “crowd control.”

As someone who has logged countless hours as crowd control I can tell you

  1. It involves taking control of a group right away by reviewing rules, giving out prizes, and rewarding those who follow the rules
  2. Constantly roaming the room calming down children who aren’t paying attention, or are disrupting everyone else
  3. Separating disruptive children from everyone else, and making sure they know exactly why they are there
  4. And being mean (strict) when necessary

In the past everything would be fine if the teacher made the rules clear, and enforced them.  Today most children’s ministries wouldn’t be caught dead without crowd control

I happened to be sick one afternoon winter and wasn’t able to be at a weekly after-school Bible program.  Later on that week I asked how things went, and was told the whole time was utter chaos because there weren’t enough people to keep the kids under control.

The next week I began the program with a very serious talk about how disappointed I was with them misbehaving while Mr. John was gone last week and noticed a boy (we will call him Jason) had his shoe off waving it around.

Jason happened to be the worst kid in our program and exhibited a complete lack of respect for all authority. No matter how many times we separated him from the others or withheld prizes he just didn’t care.  That afternoon I ended up sending him to the principals office because he was just being too disruptive.

I came to visit him a few minutes later and asked why he was waving a shoe around when everyone else was listening but he just shrugged his shoulders and refused to say a word.  As the secretary called his mother Jason suddenly started to cry and told me that he had “sand in his shoe.”  I thanked Jason for telling me what the problem was (never saw any sand) and encouraged him next time to raise his hand and ask permission to take his shoe off instead of disrupting the class.

Notice that the hard heart of this little boy in the first-grade wouldn’t break or show any remorse until the moment his mother was on the phone; and then it was probably only fear of punishment that broke him.  Now imagine what it would take to bring obedience in the third, fourth, or fifth grade.  The sad truth is children’s heart are just getting harder…before long a call to their parents won’t even make a dent in the armor.

My point is we often don’t think about a child’s authority problem till their in Jr. High, but at that point it’s already far too developed.  There is more of a need than ever before for parents to instill in their children a respect of authority (their authority) at a young age so they obey before the moment a police officer oversteps his boundaries.

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