Student Abuse, Glass Half-Full Response: “At Least He Didn’t have Sex With Them!”

"They did WHAT to you in school?"

I have been getting bored with all the reports of teachers sexually molesting their students (oh, yes, they have been turning up at the usual rate), so it is stimulating, though still depressing, to see a different type of outrageous conduct that shows how little training too many public school personnel receive, how little judgment some of them display, and most of all, the appalling presence of such fools in close contact with our children at all. In Pine Bluff, Arkansas, a member of a junior high school staff thought the kids weren’t clearing the halls fast enough, so what do you think he did?

Come on, guess.

Give up?

He pepper-sprayed them.

Faith Fourney, a student at the school, witnessed the school resource officer–now identified as one Anthony Brown— spray, and more. “Not knowing he was going to spray it I walked straight into it,” Forney said. She inhaled it,as did several other students. Three went to the hospital, and seventeen others left school early. “Everybody started hollering and we had people just gagging and throwing up and everything and I’m like, what’s going on?” Forney said. (Completely tangential issue: I heard Sean Hannity on the radio blathering on while saying, over and over again, “and I’m, like…” as an illiterate stand-in for “and I said.” It’s bad enough having a valley girl clone like Megan McCain being featured as a pundit on Fox News and CNN, but radio hosts over the mental age of 16 have an ethical obligation not to degrade the language further by talking like middle-school students. I mean, I was like, “Marc Levin, Laura Ingraham and Rush Limbaugh have their flaws, but at least they speak standard English!”)

Superintendent Jerry Payne confirmed that a school resource officer did use pepper spray to force students inside classrooms. Payne said  the officer pointed the spray toward the ground, not at students.


Well it’s okay, then.

I know I sound like a corrupted media file (“like a broken record” was so much clearer. <sigh!>), but when something like this happens, it implicates the school and the whole school system. What kind of idiots are they hiring to interact with 12-14-year-olds? How could they think that assaulting them with toxic spray is appropriate? Where are the procedures? Where is the training and supervision?

When something like this happens, I am tempted to advocate that every teacher and administrator be fired, the school closed and razed, and salt sowed into the land where it once stood.  How can any responsible parent trust a place like this with the education and safety of their children? If one staff member will pepper spray them, another might beat them with a baseball bat. The school system should close the place down until there is a thorough investigation.

The news account quotes student Forney as opining that the incident “could have been avoided.” A student needs to say that? Pepper spraying kids in school “could” have been avoided? Let me teach Faith something that could be helpful when she is a parent: it has to be avoided; in fact, the thought of pepper spraying students should never enter a school employee’s brain.

Home schooling has its drawbacks, to be sure. I’m reasonably certain, however, that no home schooled student will ever be pepper sprayed.


Update: Rick Jones has an excellent post on this story, in the context of other pepper spray incidents.

13 thoughts on “Student Abuse, Glass Half-Full Response: “At Least He Didn’t have Sex With Them!”

  1. You’re not familiar with CSS – “Contingent Skin Shock” and other “Behaviour Modification” techniques used on Problem Children, are you?

    You know, the violent, the autistic, the transgendered.

    Here’s a video.

    Possibly the biggest problem that Trans and Intersex people face is that normal, sane, rational people don’t believe that things like this happen. Certainly not that it’s no one-off exception, but a common ocurrence for some on the margins. Less than it was though.

  2. Jack, I think you might be a bit hard on the phrase “[I/he/she] was like…”. When I’ve seen it, it’s included more than just the words. Tone of voice, body language, etc. Using it as a direct replacement of “I said”? Silly. Just don’t through out the useful usages as well.

  3. “Home schooling has its drawbacks, to be sure. I’m reasonably certain, however, that no home schooled student will ever be pepper sprayed.”

    With the growth in home schooling, you have to know that’s coming. It may have already happened, and it may be only a matter of time before we know.

  4. But this isn’t a problem of too little training. When I look at the teacher education requirements, there are 32 credit hours dedicated purely to teaching principles and methods and then they have a semester of student teaching. That means 1/4 of their entire college degree is how to deal with students and they have an entire semester to work on how to put it into practice. That is equivalent to an entire college major on how to interact with students.

    College professors have a requirement of 0 credit hours of classes on how to interact and deal with students. You would think colleges would be rife with this kind of behavior. However, I have not seen many college professors who have the problems dealing with students like the public schoolteachers seem to. When I do see faculty with real problems interacting with students, they are just fired quickly and they find more appropriate employment.

    So why are the public schoolteachers acting this way? For one, they don’t have enough knowledge to be confident in their subject area. They are unsure of the material themselves and when challenged on it by students, they just lash out. They end up being bullies to try to justify their position and demand respect of the students. Most college faculty know enough about their subject area that these problems don’t occur often. Secondly, most college faculty have degrees that let them get a job in something other than teaching. If teaching doesn’t work out, they can move on to another profession that uses their training. These jobs (any other jobs) also pay more than education, so people who don’t like teaching or aren’t good at it move out of education. Schoolteachers have degrees that have become so pedagogy-heavy (see above), that they really aren’t qualified for much else. If they turn out to be lousy teachers or hate teaching they are pretty much out of luck unless they want to go back to school.

    I think we would be much better off with teachers with solid training in their subject area that with a lot of knowledge of pedagogy.

    • I find myself mostly in agreement with Michael here, as my own experience is pretty consistent with what he describes.
      (I was a mathematics education major right up until my senior year in college, when I changed majors. I passed 100% of the coursework. The only thing separating me from being a licensed teacher is a semester of student teaching and passing the test.)

      On the other hand, I’ve also known my share of college professors who COULD NOT TEACH, which is a separate problem altogether. Plus I knew of at least two of them who had affairs with their students.


      • Most of the universities I have taught at don’t do research, so my experience is a little slanted. At a primarily teaching institution which is trying to retain students, someone who can’t teach is a big problem for the whole institution.

        • I’m an Assistant (untenured) lecturer at the Australian National University.
          Some are very, very good researchers; others, like myself, prefer and are better at, teaching.

          Very few are good at both, but you need a mix.

          I’ve got my required 2 papers/year in A class publications in (Journal of Chemical Physics, Journal of Computational and Theoretical Chemistry) so may be offered work next semester. Or may not.

          If I do, I’ll earn nearly the average wage – maybe as much as $40,000 over the year.

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