A few days ago, a story came across my news feed that I was sure was not true. Apparently, a school district in North Carolina has changed their handbook so that high schoolers are allowed to carry pepper spray with them to school. This has something to do with pre-preemptive fear about who is in the bathroom, and there are a myriad of good articles discussing that fear. I would like to focus on the craziness that is allowing teenagers pepper spray in school.
If we can’t all agree that letting high school students carry weapons to school is a terrible idea, then there really is no hope for this country.
I do not care what the problem is, giving teenagers pepper spray is NEVER the solution. Ever. Not even one time.
I have been working in a high school setting for ten year, and I have a lot of hands on experience with the kinds of stupid that high school students exhibit on a regular basis. This stupid is not because they are stupid, or bad, or awful. The kind of stupid that is high school student stupid has everything to do with the fact that there is a critical mass of bodies that look fully grown being directed by brains that are not fully developed. This isn’t anyone’s fault, but it has been my professional problem for the last ten years.
Let me say, in my full teacher voice, with the kind of authority needed to keep two girls who have already taken off their earrings from going full MMA on each other in my classroom:
WE DO NOT GIVE TEENAGERS WEAPONS AT SCHOOL!
Teenagers do not think before they act. They just do not. When I took to Twitter and Facebook to ask my teacher friends what was the dumbest thing a student had ever done in their classroom, not because the child was bad simply because the child was a teenager, I got some doozies. These examples come from all kinds of kids with all kinds of backgrounds at all kinds of schools. The only thing these kids have in common, is their brain development.
Here is a selection of the responses I received from my veteran teacher friends:
A student stuck a paperclip in the electrical outlet just to see what would happen.
A student used the bunsen burner to “sterilize” a paper clip and pierce their own ear.”
There was the girl who made appointments in the girls bathroom and pierced multiple peer navels before she was finally caught. Think about that for a second. MULTIPLE teenagers decided that it was a good idea to let a peer pierce their belly button in a public restroom. Multiple.
There were more incidences of kids sharpening pencils super pointy and then stabbing themselves or someone else with than I want to believe.
The same goes for students who wanted to know if a staple would go through jeans and into a human’s thigh. Spoiler alert: It can if you press hard enough.
There were two separate incidents, reported by teachers who don’t even know each other, of a kid hot gluing another kid in the neck “just to see what would happen.”
Speaking of seeing what would happen, there were also multiple reports of a student somehow getting a hold of pepper spray (usually from a teacher’s key chain) and voluntarily spraying themselves with it, just to see if it really was as bad as the people on YouTube claim.
I, personally, once taught a child who sprayed his friend and when the friend started crying BECAUSE HE HAD BEEN PEPPER SPRAYED. The sprayer then sprayed himself to prove his friend was just being a baby. They both got sent to the nurse to get their eyes washed out, and then they had to go home.
One of my colleagues at a neighboring school system was knocked out cold by a stray textbook that had been thrown through the air. The kid who threw it wasn’t being malicious. It is just that he was wondering how far he could throw the textbook and his aim was off. A textbook. A kid looked at a text book and didn’t think, I wonder what kind of valuable information I can glean by opening this up and reading it. No, this kid looked at the textbook and thought, I wonder how far I can chuck this thing. So, he did that.
And, hands down, the most disgusting incidence of WHAT IS EVEN HAPPENING IN YOUR BRAIN! A student, while dissecting a rat, dared another student to eat a rat fetus that had been preserved in formaldehyde. They of course recorded this epic incident and posted it on the internet for posterity’s sake. When presented with the recording and the sheer amount of dangerous chemicals ingested, the student shrugged and said it was definitely worth the five dollars he was paid. He ate a rat fetus and defends that decision to this day.
These are the same, looking grown, but for sure not grown, people that a school district has agreed should be allowed to carry pepper spray to school. I have no idea how much the school nurses in that district make, but it is not even close to enough to deal with this foolishness.
Aren’t school districts supposed to be aware of what children are like? Who passed these changes? Surely not a parent with children in their own house! Parents of teenagers know better. Teachers of teenagers know better. Who does not know better than to let teenagers carry around pepper spray, and suggest to them they might need to use it in school and WHY ARE THEY IN CHARGE OF THE RULES?
Y’all. I have questions. But perhaps my most timely question is: Who is going to start the YouTube channel for all the pepper spray mishaps bound to be caught on camera? As long as I am not in charge of it, that junk is bound to be hilarious.