Day 31 – Devotional & Discussion April 9, 2014

Mark 10:13-16

Jesus took children in his arms, laid his hands on them and blessed them.  However, before he could, he had to chastise his disciples for trying to prevent it.  Why do you think the disciples tried to limit the children’s access to Jesus?  What might their underlying attitude be toward children?  How do you think the children (and parents) would have felt if Jesus rejected them?

Today, we have seen a growing number of adults “laying their hands” on children—not to bless them but to punish them.  Due to zero tolerance policies, children are being suspended and expelled from school at growing rates.  Expulsion is even becoming common in preschools.  What message do you think expulsion gives to young children? 

Many groups have begun to call suspension and expulsion the first step in the “school to prison pipeline.”  Children who are expelled are much more likely to repeat the behavior and end up incarcerated in juvenile detention facilities and later in adult prisons as they grow up understanding themselves as “bad”.  What, if anything, might Jesus have to say to us about our treatment of children.  Link HERE to learn more about the “school to prison pipeline” and pray that teachers and administrators will move to divert children away from the pipeline.

3 comments

  1. There is an interesting debate going on around the issue of discipline policies in Charter Schools in Chicago. Many charter schools have strict disciplinary policies that give demerits for the most minor infractions. Demerits lead to fines, suspensions and ultimately to expulsions. The rates of out of school suspensions and expulsions are much higher than traditional public schools. The charter schools defend their “get tough” discipline as a way to create a culture of excellence, but many youth and parents say it leads to a culture of fear and intimidation. While all children need boundaries, and there are times when “tough love” is required, children also need affirmation and positive reinforcement. Check out the article. I’d be interested in other people’s reactions. http://eeditionmobile.chicagotribune.com/Olive/Tablet/ChicagoTribune/SharedArticle.aspx?href=CTC%2F2014%2F04%2F07&id=Ar00104

  2. Here’s a crazy (sad, ridiculous) example I just saw: http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2014-04-08/news/chi-pakistani-baby-attempted-murder-charge-20140408_1_attempted-murder-9-month-old-baby-crime-report Just looked at the article you posted…one school suspended nearly 60% of the student body! Another expelled nearly 5%! In the thick of parenting teens, I feel like I know less than ever about appropriate punishment. When I was a youth pastor, I had it all figured out (not really…I did feel more confident though). I strongly recommend the Center for Parent/Youth Understanding as a group that has helped us. http://www.cpyu.org. I have a sense that our culture may have gotten too lax when it comes to discipline, but that is a sweeping generalization.

    1. I agree with you that parenting skills in the area of setting boundaries and discipline have slipped over the years. I see it clearly in the childcare setting. There is irony in the fact that parents don’t discipline but don’t want those in authority to discipline them either. My concern about zero-tolerance policies and suspensions over inconsequential rules is that they don’t teach the behavior we want to see. Rather than come up with rules to break, how much better it is to identify behaviors to reward and catch our children doing right. This does not mean that we ignore the infractions. However, it means we use the infraction as an opportunity to reinforce the behavior that is appropriate. Discipline is all about instruction toward what is good and right and just. Punishment is about the infraction. And we often use punishment as a means to maintain control and assert power.

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