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Annie Fox, M.Ed., is an internationally respected parenting expert, award-winning author, and a trusted online adviser for tweens and teens.

Day 24: Kindness and Respect Challenge (Dealing with broken glass)

October 24, 2013

Watch where you step. Watch what you toss.

I know a school where broken glass is a serious problem. Kids there freely toss it in classrooms and hallways, in the lunchroom and on the playground. Where do they get it? It’s everywhere for the taking and every day there’s more. The students at this school keep their pockets full so whenever they feel the urge, they lob sharp fragments at other students. When the glass hits the mark it pierces and often sticks. The fallen shards are left for others to step on.

Does it hurt the hands of the kids who throw the glass? Sure, but it’s worth a little pain because in this school it’s cool to make other people suffer. Pumps up the glass throwers and makes them feel powerful. And if all of this weren’t appalling enough, in this school kids are required to walk around barefoot. You heard correctly. No protection allowed for those tender little soles. If you visited, you’d see kids limping around with bloody feet and hands.

Not a place you’d ever send  your child, I’m sure.

So where is this school? Maybe you’re guessing it’s in that state. The place where parents have no common sense nor the time/inclination to teach their kids to be good people. If you guessed “Not my state,” you’d be wrong.  Actually, this glass-filled school is in your state. In fact, it’s the school your child attends.

(Excuse me while I cover my ears to mute the screams of: “You’re wrong, Annie! My child’s school does not have broken glass anywhere! Every corner of our school is safe.”

OK, you got me. There’s no actual broken glass lying around any school I know. I just made up the glass thing as a not-so-subtle metaphor for the teasing, rumors, harassment, and general peer-to-peer meanness found in every school.

So… now that we know what we’re talking about and we’re willing to admit that yes, there is some broken glass in our school, what are we doing about it? How might teaching our kids my glass metaphor change their attitudes and behavior? Try it and let me know what happens. The way I figure it, it’s worth the effort to protect their tender souls.

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