I’m sure it will come as no surprise to most of you that I was not very well behaved at school. In fact, I spent many a class stood outside the classroom or on my chair or on report.
What can I say, I am a free spirit, a maverick, an artist, I have never and I never will fit in to a neat little box. It’s in my nature to question authority and ‘the norm’ and without naughty people like me things may never be questioned and therefore things will never change. Society needs its punks just as much as it needs its world leaders.
Yes, I am a pain and yes somewhat of a loose cannon but I am not malicious in any way and I am extremely tolerant because of the life I have lived. I just like to question convention every now and then.
This weekend I found myself saddened and shocked when I heard that most of our senior schools have ‘isolation rooms’ for naughty pupils.
Now, admittedly it was some teenagers who told me about this and they said it was a room painted black but I think they may have exaggerated that somewhat but whatever its colour, I really don’t like the idea of an ‘isolation room’ as punishment in our schools, it sounds like something you might have in a prison and I wouldn't really approve of it there either.
First of all, the word ‘isolation’ is awful. If there must be such a room, why not call it ‘the reflective room’? Maybe have a teacher/counsellor in there to talk to these kids.
I know one of the reasons I was so bad at school was because I secretly had bulimia and I hated myself, maybe if this had been picked up sooner I wouldn’t have felt so alone and so I would not have played up quite so much. Most naughty kids do feel isolated anyway, so to further isolate them is insane.
I also found out that schools are filled with CCTV cameras these days and that if there has been any trouble the teachers can go straight to the CCTV room to get footage!
What the fuck is going on? Big brother is now a reality for our kids, their every move being watched, their spirits being crushed, their very souls being possessed!
No wonder our schools are filled with kids that have depression and panic attacks if this is the way we treat them.
I know teenagers are bad and out of control these days but they have a lot to contend with, don’t they?
Lets’ face it, puberty by itself is horrendous enough. I’ve always thought that our kids do their most important exams at the absolute worst time in their lives.
Teenagers are trying to find themselves, coming to terms with and grieving their childhood, dealing with crazy hormone changes, trying to find their place in the world, sometimes living in awful conditions.
On top of that coping with their ever-changing bodies, a sudden sex drive, spots, peer pressure, family break-ups, social media and suddenly being expected to behave in a grown up like manner. All while being told to choose a career, learn as much as they can at school (most of which they will never ever use), toe the line, fit in to a box and help the schools achieve their targets.
And let’s face it. They go from over fluffy primary schools, where they aren’t even allowed to laugh at a fart, while watching frilly kids tv channels to suddenly finding themselves in prison like, big brother senior schools, where they get on the internet and have access to social media and all its demons, YouTube with no restrictions, websites about anything they want, awful reality TV show people who have no morals but yet magazines plug them, enforcing to teenagers they should aspire to be like them and in some cases our teenagers even manage to track down hardcore porn on the internet!
It’s too much we are going to break them!
I’m told there are special rooms for kids that have panic attacks in schools too.
NEWS FLASH..... Our kids shouldn’t be having panic attacks!
So many of our kids are depressed and in need of care for their mental health and because of this you would hope that at least the mental health system for minors would be excellent, wouldn’t you?
Well I know for a fact it is not excellent at all. In fact it's archaic and something that really needs looking in to.
One of my very close friends daughter sadly went in to a CAMHS hospital for self-harming and while she was in there she was sexually assaulted by a much older boy patient. She was headbutted by a much older girl patient and another girl patient in the hospital offered her cocaine.
She is 12 years old!
She witnessed and was a victim of terrible things that she would never and should never have known all while she was under the care of our mental health service. They were supposed to be nursing her back to health and if anything, they made her worse for a while.
What chance do these kids have? We are failing them at every turn. We must change something and quickly.
I posted on Facebook my shock at learning there are isolation rooms in our senior schools and I got a very mixed response from parents.
More than I thought, didn’t even know such rooms existed but when you quizzed your kids you found out their schools did have them.
Some parents applauded the rooms and were pleased that their children didn’t have to put up with disruptive kids in their already overcrowded classes. I suspect these were parents of kids that behaved.
One father told me his child is autistic and often gets put in isolation for being disruptive when he is in fact having panic attacks but the school doesn’t seem to get that he is not being naughty and this punishment is making him worse.
Another friend said she knew a child that was angry because both his father and step father had tragically died but he was just put in isolation and eventually expelled. No one really took the time to look at him and see he was grieving and afraid.
Lots of teachers asked me, ‘What are we supposed to do instead?
Honestly, I don’t know but ‘isolation’ and surveillance is not the answer in my opinion.
I think we are getting it wrong right from their informative years, which I think are too mollycoddled and fluffy. There’s no fun anymore for kids, no art. We had things like the Muppets, who were anarchic but caring. They have over considered kids programmes that have no real bearing on life.
I think all the fun has been washed away by too much political correctness and as a society we no longer take responsibility for our own actions.
The government tells us what to do on every level, even saying they will tax sugar and fast food so we don’t get fat. Well I eat sugar and fast food and I’m not fat. Maybe it would be better for them to tell people not to be greedy but political correctness means they can’t and they make more money by taxing us and that suits us because then we can blame our lives on others and in doing so we teach our kids to do the same.
One of the most important things to teach children is empathy for others but how are we doing that if we just lock the naughty kids away?
I think the Steiner Schools approach where each child is looked at individually is ideal but in our over full state schools this is just not practical so what do we do?
I know so many people who now homeschool their kids but for me that is not the answer, I want Phoenix and Indiana to enjoy the 'Harry Potter Hogwarts' type wonder, we all had when we were at school not be secluded to just seeing me every day.
I don’t know the answers and maybe I’m too naughty myself to even consider an answer but I know whenever I have been treated like I’m a problem at work I become a problem and I don’t even mean to but in trying to prove I can be good I seem to be bad!
I think the isolation type punishment is psychological abuse and that is the punishment of choice in places like Guantanamo. I’m not saying our schools are that bad but we should maybe think of a different strategy when it comes to dealing with disruptive kids and for me finding out why they don’t want to ‘fit in’ is key.
Maybe they have problems at home. I saw in the case of poor Becky Watts that there was a ‘need for services to be focussed on "the needs and circumstance of adolescents" to avoid vulnerable young people "being seen as 'troublesome' rather than troubled because of their circumstances".’
Shouldn’t we do this in our schools too. Maybe ‘troublesome’ means that these kids are ‘troubled’ in some way.
Maybe these kids have eating disorders as I did, or confidence problems.
Maybe they’re just not coping very well with the changes that becoming a teenager brings.
Maybe they are bored.
Maybe they’re dyslexic.
Maybe they don’t understand as easily as others.
Maybe their teacher isn’t very engaging.
Their disruptive behaviours could be being caused by so many things. It can’t always be just down to a child being ‘bad’ can it?
For me part of the joy of school was getting away with things and causing some mischief. CCTV has no place in schools unless it’s to protect the children.
Teenagers are horrible but they need our protection and not just the good ones but all of them. I don’t know the answer but one thing I do know is that we definitely have not found it with isolation rooms and CCTV.