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The problem with kids these days? Take a look in the mirror

Surely it’s time we all put our big boy’s and girl’s pants on, writes Ali Clarke, and realise as parents we might be doing it wrong.

Apr 02, 2024, updated Apr 02, 2024
Photo: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

Photo: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

A recent report from the Australian Catholic University (ACU) into what our school leaders face each day makes for some pretty damning reading.

Just under half of all school leaders reported experiencing or witnessing some form of physical violence, whilst just over half of them were threatened with it.

Essentially it means school principals, right around the country, are suffering the worst levels of behaviour on record and it’s coming at them from both parents and students.

Well, quite simply, who the hell do we think we are?

Save for perhaps the police or armed forces whose job implies some level of conflict, no one should be turning up to work and facing that type of aggression, and it should absolutely not be the people whose job it is to educate our next generation of leaders on the finer arts of reading, writing and arithmetic.

This challenge was openly addressed by the Minister for Education Blair Boyer at a recent celebration of teaching retirees I hosted.

The minister spoke of his father’s four decades as a country teacher and recalled the respectful way he was treated, as compared to the utter crap our current crop of educators face.

And on this one, I’m with Boyer.

I clearly remember getting in trouble from Mr Cole my Year3/4 teacher.

I listened, I never would have dared question him and I accepted my fate and got stuck into picking up rubbish in the playground.

To this day I couldn’t tell you my apparent infringement, but I can clearly remember knowing this was a person of authority and he was someone to be respected.

A mate of mine from school nailed it over dinner the other week when I asked him about his life as a teacher.

He had come via nearly 10 years working as a FIFO in the mines and he said, “Ali, the problem I’m having isn’t always the kids… on the whole, they are actually pretty good”.

“The biggest problem I’m having is with the parents.

“When I ring them to let them know their child has done something wrong and want some sort of conversation about how they can back me up so we can fix the problem, they immediately turn on me and say it must be my fault.

“I’m finding I’m doing less teaching, more parenting and no one is ready to accept their little cherub might even be capable of doing something wrong.”

And I get it… think back to your own schooling.

I bet if you were ever sent to the principal’s office and a phone call had to be made home, the first thing your mum would do would be to apologise on your kid’s behalf and assure the teacher that any punishment met out at school would be doubled when they got home.

It would then be tripled the moment dad got home.

The overriding message from the folks was that teachers were there to do a job and if in ANY way you interfered with that then the problem was with you and you’d be treated accordingly.

Now it seems the vast majority of us have drunk the Kool-Aid and truly believe the sun shines out of our little Jimmy’s and Jenny’s backsides and it’s everyone else’s problem that they’re actually entitled little turds.

So here we are in 2024 and principals are now reporting everything from having hair ripped from their heads to bruising to facing stand over tactics from students and parents alike. They sustain injuries from either direct attacks or because they are breaking up fights between the kids they are responsible for.

It’s little wonder 56 per cent of them said they were likely to either retire early or leave the profession for something else and some are at the stage where they are happy to start wearing body cameras like the police do.

We should hang our heads in shame.

Let’s. Be. Clear.

Teachers are there to impart knowledge and training to get our kids ready to work in the outside world.

Parents are there to impart knowledge and training to get their kids ready to BE in the outside world.

This includes everything from personal hygiene to personal responsibility.

Yes, it’s a lot, but it’s a damn privilege to be a parent and I for one am over people throwing that away and leaving it to others to do the job.

It’s not the job of our teachers, police, shopkeepers, welfare officers.

It’s not the job of charities, youth workers or service staff.

Yes, there are times when parents can’t be parents and those children need to be supported, but what I can’t cop is when the children from relative privilege aren’t reigned in and then those families look to blame everyone else.

For goodness sake, grow up and stop looking elsewhere, because whilst no institution is perfect, I reckon if your parents were honest with you, they’d think you’re the problem, not the teacher.

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