Every now and then you read a news story that makes you hate your country. This week, KSDK reported that a 13-year-old boy was given detention because he shared his lunch with another student. The reason? The school has a no-sharing policy because of “safety and liability.” That’s right, folks, that lesson you learned about sharing in Kindergarten is revoked before high school. Thankfully, the article reported that people are responding with a “Wait…what?” Attitude.
The safety part is…somewhat commendable. Food allergies and poisons are a real thing. But liability? Not even close. The school fears getting in trouble if a kid gets hurt on their premises. First of all, I’d hop sides and defend that school in a flash. Schools can’t oversee every minute detail of their charges’ lives, not without Big Brother’s help. Second, this means that the school has a rule not to better its students, not to even really help its teachers and staff…but to protect itself. And that self-preserving instinct has gone so far that it will discourage sharing.
Dude…wouldn’t you rather get sued?
It’s the zero-tolerance part that bugs me. You can’t share food. Period. You can’t give your non-allergic best friend a handful of M&M’s because the school says so. Rather than judge and determine a given situation, people will give broad, sweeping rules. Why? Because it’s easier for them. Make everything a no-no and there’s no chance of the company/school/government getting into trouble.
My own work did this recently. I’m what’s called a GC3, one step higher than a GC2. The company used to call on various employees to train others in new processes. Those who caught on quickly helped others. But then the GC2 crowd realized that training wasn’t in their labor code and thought they should be paid a GC3 rate since it IS in their labor code. Apparently, that’s a lawsuit waiting to happen. So how did my company respond? They banned all co-workers from training other co-workers. Let me repeat that: training other employees is apparently in the GC3 labor codes. But because the GC2s can’t do it, the GC3s can’t, either. Why? Because it’s easier to make a broad rule than a right one.
Seriously, wouldn’t ANYBODY rather get sued?
Doesn’t anybody want to stand up against this rampant stupidity? Doesn’t anybody want to bite the bullet and do what’s right and what’s logical rather than what is easy and safe? Do we have to give children detentions not because they hurt somebody, but because they might have caused us some legal trouble?
I mean is that what we’re teaching kids? Don’t do this because it scares me, because it makes me look bad, because I don’t want to have to deal with the repercussions. Not because it’s wrong, but because I don’t want to deal with it. When we do this, we are teaching kids a black-and-white binary morality that would give an ambulance driver a ticket because they ran a red light. Never mind that they had someone dying in the back; rules are rules.
We just taught a kid not to share because it could get him in legal trouble. That’s right, WE taught him. Not just the school, we’re all responsible. We’re the ones perpetuating this culture of fear, this sue-happy civilization that is so afraid of bad things that it nullifies the good things. We’re teaching this to each other and to our kids.
Wouldn’t you rather do the right thing? Please…please consider your answer.