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Modern Parenthood

Erin Cox punishment sends teens the wrong message

Erin Cox thought she was doing the right thing by picking up a friend who was too drunk to drive home from a party. However, school administrators found her in violation of the school's zero tolerance drug and alcohol policy. What kind of a message does this send to teens?

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However, in this particular case Erin’s mom is suing over the decision her daughter made because she knows her child made the right call, according to AP.

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Lisa Suhay, who has four sons at home in Norfolk, Va., is a children’s book author and founder of the Norfolk (Va.) Initiative for Chess Excellence (NICE) , a nonprofit organization serving at-risk youth via mentoring and teaching the game of chess for critical thinking and life strategies.

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Schools may be acting in our stead, but they are not acting like good parents who know how important it is to go hard on the problem but soft on the people.

A few years ago when one of my sons was in high school his friend saw a boy from his very rough neighborhood pulling a knife from his backpack in a remote part of the school athletic area.

The boy had brought it as a means of protecting himself after a gang incident back in the hood.

My son’s friend was a classic peace maker and held a leadership role in the school community. He knew that if he called a teacher he, his family, and friend could all suffer consequences from the gang.

It was like a modern version of West Side Story unfolding in Virginia.

It seems the boy, a high school junior at the time, had more faith in his own ability to defuse the situation than that of the school authority.

He should have told someone in authority but instead opted to prevent a fellow student from making the mistake of a lifetime.

School hadn’t started for the day yet and no teachers were in his area. He didn’t risk leaving the boy with the weapon to go and get help.

Instead my son’s friend talked the other, panicked, boy into handing him the knife which he threw into the classroom’s trash can in a closet before school began.

However, when a janitor found the weapon and the incident traced back to this boy having taken it away without reporting the situation to the school, he was severely punished.

Not only was the boy stripped of his leadership position, he was expelled under the zero tolerance for weapons policy and sentenced to a rehabilitation school for the worst of the worst students in the district.

I found out about the incident when I went to the rehabilitation school as a volunteer through my chess program and saw the boy in the hallway as armed guards shuffled lines of kids from room to room during the class changes.

Word quickly spread throughout the teen population that you don’t help. The risks are too great.

As parents we need to put our feet down, walk into school board offices and demand a review of these zero tolerance policies before they can do any more damage to the moral code of our kids.

Time to join the PTA, attend the meetings and read those reams of policies we sign off on every year before they sign off on our kids.


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