Saturday, October 31, 2009

Student cheating a life long-skill? Richmond Gang Rape a sign of Moral Decay?

A couple of things in the news this week have a connection to each other although only indirectly.

Students and Dishonesty.

First, "Seeds of adult dishonesty are sown in youth, study finds," by Carla Rivera, October 29, 2009.,0,25349.story

The story in the L.A. TIMES on Friday seems to establish a couple of things that some have already thought were happening generally. Namely, that standards of honesty and doing right don't rate as highly with youunger people than older ones and that the students that cheat in high school are more likely to do so in later life. The study was done by the Josephson Institute, an organinzation that works on ethical issues training and information.

The story in the TIMES does go into the possible reasons for more teen cheating and dishonesty. That discussion of reasons makes sense but still does not justify the behavior, it only explains its possible causes.

If the results of the study are accurate, there's a lot less that's good to expect of our future leaders and future politicians (as if the politician types needed new reasons for dishonesty). The story goes on to show that an ethics program in Downey Unified School District was begun four years ago and suspensions and expulsions are down and attendance is up.

The Second Story- Gang Rape Outside Homecoming Dance.

In the news this week there was the other story about the Richmond, California gang rape of a 15-year old student (Ed. note: corrected from earlier "16-year old" reference.) outside the school's homecoming dance. A group of males acosted her as she left the dance early to get picked up outside by her father. The men took her around the location an alley and raped her for 2-1/2 hours, witnessed by at least 20 persons with no one calling 911 for the police or trying to stop it. some people were said to have recorded the scene on cell phone videos.

The girl's assault was being talked about inside the dance and another woman called police to report it. Some reports say they were still in progress when police arrived. The question in most people's mind is "Why" no one called the police at all, even if they did not want to be seen doing it at the scene?

Another question is "Why would anyone record the video and not call police?" Did they consider this crime to be some form of entertainment?

This loosely ties in with the idea in the "dishonesty" treand among young people. A lot of disinterest in the welfare or caring about fellow human beings could result in this kind of inaction. The Kitty Genovese murder in NY was the clasic example of such failures to help. In that case, decades ago, the woman was assaulted and her screams were heard by a large number of people, but no one called police. The conduct at Richmond, a high crime area as described by many, shows that we haven't had any consistent instilling of values in young people.

Most in high school, adults that is, when it comes to teaching right from wrong and seeing a value in doing good, simply say, "That's the parents job." You'd be surprised how young people see violence and crime as an acceptable kind of behavior. There was a very large proportion of students that had no idea of common courtesies such as "Please, Thank You, or You're Welcome." (There's enough adults. too, with this pattern, so you can see that's why it was not learned or reinforced. I had to say, to respond, for each instance that another teacher shrugged it off, "Well, SOMEBODY has to show them and they can't do that in my class."

It was a pretty novel concept to many but progress was made slowly but surely. It's just that not enough attention is given to see the voids in the makeup of young people, maybe with all the pressures of teaching to the standards and the tests, there's no time to teach as much about fitting in with other human beings.

Yet, simply explaining with some examples and asking a question, "How would you like to be treated in the situation?" often begins to turn on some lights and begins to put it together for students. No one wants to be treated badly and to further demonstrate things, you could ask, "What if this were your friend, your mother, your sister, your baby sister or brother?" or some less numerous combination presented to not go overboard in the exercise.

And now this rape situation seems that it should be intolerable to ignore and not call police, but that's what happened. Maybe the kinds of questions and discussions I had with students never were presented to these young crime witnesses.

That's why the gang rape story, a horrific and brutal example of human behavior, could be explained to some extent, but it would never be justified. Those perpetrators, some adult and some teens, look like they are facing the most serious penalties for the felonies and the youth offenders are said to be charged as adults.

So there are the two stories that do have a connection of sorts, something that calls for causes to be addressed since neither should be an acceptable level of behavior.