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Our nation’s preschool-to-prison pipeline
July 25, 2014 8:10 AM   Subscribe

"My son has been suspended five times. He’s 3."

CNN video: Pre-K suspensions target black students

L.A. Unified bans suspension for 'willful defiance'

Black Preschoolers Far More Likely To Be Suspended:

Across age groups, black students are three times more likely than white students to be suspended.

While boys make up the large majority of students who are suspended (about eight in 10), about 12 percent of black girls are suspended and 7 percent of Native American girls are suspended. That's a rate higher than that of white boys (6 percent).

Black students make up about 16 percent of enrolled students, but make up more than a quarter of all students who are referred to the police.

Native Americans are also overrepresented among the suspended. They make up one percent of enrolled students but two percent of the suspended.

Students with disabilities make up about 12 percent of the student population, but they make up 75 percent of those restrained at schools. There's a racial gap there, too: blacks are about 19 percent of the population with a disability, but make up more than a third of students who "are restrained at school through the use of a mechanical device or equipment designed to restrict their freedom of movement.


Why are black students being paddled more in the public schools?

Black Boys Viewed as Older, Less Innocent Than Whites, Research Finds (Previously on Metafilter)
posted by roomthreeseventeen (116 comments total) 39 users marked this as a favorite

 
While I don't agree with the suspensions, the behaviours displayed by the child of the writer of the NYT piece are troubling - spitting and throwing chairs. It does indicate something is wrong. Perhaps too long at preschool and daycare?
posted by KokuRyu at 8:22 AM on July 25 [4 favorites]


I think the key argument she's making in that WaPo piece, KokuRyu, is this:

One after another, white mothers confessed the trouble their children had gotten into. Some of the behavior was similar to JJ’s; some was much worse.

Most startling: None of their children had been suspended.

posted by mediareport at 8:29 AM on July 25 [75 favorites]


That is heartbreaking. Children misbehave in school all the time, but, little brown and black children--boys especially--are punished more extremely than white children who misbehave? No surprise there, but still heartbreaking. I disagree with the writer's decision to keep her boys in that program. I'd not leave a small child in a racist environment if I could at all help it, social change be damned.
posted by GoLikeHellMachine at 8:30 AM on July 25 [2 favorites]


It's true, racism does indeed still exist multiple levels within society. This is sad.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:33 AM on July 25


I believe most educators want to help all children. But many aren’t aware of the biases and prejudices that they, like all of us, harbor, and our current system offers very little diversity training to preschool staff.

Of course their general intention is to help. But diversity training, unfortunately, is just a theoretical action so someone somewhere can say, "but look, we tried" when something like this happens. It doesn't correct or erase that harbored prejudice.
posted by swoopstake at 8:33 AM on July 25 [4 favorites]


I was shocked that preschoolers are suspended at all. Aren't they mostly miniature sociopaths?
posted by desjardins at 8:34 AM on July 25 [113 favorites]


It does indicate something is wrong.

No, not necessarily. At that age children are only learning to understand their emotions. Sometime they act inappropriately.
posted by borges at 8:37 AM on July 25 [20 favorites]


There is interesting evidence that a lot of chlidten's behavior is linked to diet. Poor kids might genuinely behave worse because they eat worse.

And the school lunch programs aren't serving food that's healthy either, usually a bunch of soy, wheat, corn, and potato products.
posted by jeffburdges at 8:38 AM on July 25


I was shocked that preschoolers are suspended at all. Aren't they mostly miniature sociopaths?

Indeed. My four year old is, by all accounts, the best behaved of all of her peers, and yet I would be only marginally surprised to get a call from her teacher and learn that she had scooped out another kid's eyeball with a tinker toy and tried to sell it on the black market.
posted by 256 at 8:38 AM on July 25 [114 favorites]


I'd not leave a small child in a racist environment if I could at all help it, social change be damned.

I've read about this before, and some of the concern was that the people making the decisions were unaware of their racist biases -- that racism is so ingrained, that it's apparently quite hard for some people to step back and realize that their treatment of the children was wholly unbalanced.


I was shocked that preschoolers are suspended at all. Aren't they mostly miniature sociopaths?

My son, not yet three years old, has been at his current daycare for less than a year, and he has been bitten three times. I'm not sure if sociopath is the right word, but the filters between their thoughts and actions aren't yet very reliable.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:39 AM on July 25 [5 favorites]


This is how Black boys are socialized into American society. It's also how White children are socialized: don't think they don't notice this and determine what kind of place the world is, what is normal, and what is just based in part on patterns like this.
posted by clockzero at 8:39 AM on July 25 [25 favorites]



I was shocked that preschoolers are suspended at all. Aren't they mostly miniature sociopaths?

Pretty much. But, you know, my son was suspended from preschool a bunch of times. But never while he was under my care - only while he lived with his mother. I was surprised to learn that they would suspend kids that age.

Now, I am even more surprised.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:39 AM on July 25


256: I would be only marginally surprised to get a call from her teacher and learn that she had scooped out another kid's eyeball with a tinker toy and tried to sell it on the black market.

That's the entrepreneurial spirit I like to see! My son would just squish it in his hands, but he seems to be in the phase of squishing everything. I can only hope he gets some business smarts in the next year.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:40 AM on July 25 [9 favorites]


the behaviours displayed by the child of the writer of the NYT piece are troubling - spitting and throwing chairs

For 3-4 year olds? In a group setting?!

I mean, it's not good behavior by any means, but it's well within the range of normal. Kindergartens are supposed to be staffed by professionals who know how to deal with the ways 3-4 year olds act out. Possibly even know how to ameliorate the effects of too many hours in kindergarten.

On preview, what desjardins said.


In other news, I had no idea paddling was remotely legal anywhere in the US.
posted by trig at 8:41 AM on July 25 [12 favorites]


Sometime they act inappropriately.

Yeah, I agree with you, and not to totally derail the conversation (sorry!) but in my experience as a parent and a teacher, kids act out like that at home, where they are more comfortable about acting inappropriately, rather than in a quasi-public space. My thought was that their day is too long, and perhaps not enough time spent with Mom (kids learn to control emotions through attachment). Is there a solution? Probably not, but it's good to understand what might be causing these behaviours, rather than just suspending them, which won't help.

But context is everything, and we all make mistakes, including spitting on people when we are wee ones.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:42 AM on July 25 [1 favorite]


Oh yeah, "soy products" totally cause misbehavior. Better not come around when I've had a few helpings of TVP.
posted by en forme de poire at 8:43 AM on July 25 [6 favorites]


> perhaps not enough time spent with Mom (kids learn to control emotions through attachment)

Or... Dad. Dads can attach. You're a dad. You should know this.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:44 AM on July 25 [86 favorites]


As Bernard Harcourt says, “this type of policing is premised on society being divided into two groups, the ‘orderly’ upstanding law-abiding citizen and the ‘disorderly’ criminal-in-the-making.” Even in New York in the 1990s, where racial and economic divides have always been sharp, who is perceived to be law-abiding is most often white; while the disorderly criminal-to-be is black, poor, or both.
When People Are Property
posted by migurski at 8:47 AM on July 25 [9 favorites]


While I don't agree with the suspensions, the behaviours displayed by the child of the writer of the NYT piece are troubling - spitting and throwing chairs. It does indicate something is wrong.

Actually, no, it indicates that the child could be only three or four. And hey, look, he is.

Preschoolers are just a year or two out of the hill cannibal stage. Acting out against other kids now and then just happens.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:51 AM on July 25 [4 favorites]


Or... Dad. Dads can attach. You're a dad. You should know this.

Hah, yes you're of course right. I probably should have mentioned all of my assumptions in my first comment so it would have been more clear.

That's also probably the big problem here (in terms of kids acting out): single-parent families where the father is absent. It makes a huge difference on how children experience school, and how educators (in this case the people intent on expelling the kids) experience those kids.

Once again, no reason to expel kids...
posted by KokuRyu at 8:52 AM on July 25 [1 favorite]


There is interesting evidence that a lot of chlidten's behavior is linked to diet. Poor kids might genuinely behave worse because they eat worse.

That may be true, but did you read this particular article where the white children who behaved worse than her kids were not suspended? This isn't about black kids behaving badly. It's about white adults reacting differently to bad behavior on a racially selected basis.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:53 AM on July 25 [49 favorites]


Preschoolers are just a year or two out of the hill cannibal stage.

Has that been your experience with your kids? I dunno, I didn't quite agree with the "hill cannibal" label. I mean, it *is* funny, but from my point of view as a parent and a teacher it does not provide a real insight into toddler behaviour. But then again I think toddlers are a lot of fun!
posted by KokuRyu at 8:54 AM on July 25 [2 favorites]


I mean, it's not good behavior by any means, but it's well within the range of normal.

Spitting on another child is not normal at daycare centres for kids aged 2-4 and is indeed an indicator of problems that need addressing with this child. I would not be too happy if I picked my kid up and they told me she'd got spat on.

However, we did have a biting kid at my daughter's daycare when she was 2 and the staff tried to address his problems with help from the whole community of kids there and other parents etc.

So I don't think the suspensions are helping much, but neither is 'it's just a bit of spitting and chair throwing, no big deal.' It is a big deal.
posted by colie at 8:54 AM on July 25 [7 favorites]


KokuRyu, I am confused because the situation you are discussing does not appear to apply to the article in the FPP:
Just like before, I tried to find excuses. I looked at myself. What was I doing wrong? My children are living a comfortable life. My husband is an amazing father to JJ and Joah.
posted by en forme de poire at 8:55 AM on July 25 [26 favorites]


My son, not yet three years old, has been at his current daycare for less than a year, and he has been bitten three times. I'm not sure if sociopath is the right word, but the filters between their thoughts and actions aren't yet very reliable.

Clearly your son is both popular and delicious. Parent accordingly and do not overdo it with sauces.
posted by srboisvert at 8:55 AM on July 25 [65 favorites]


Also, any differences in family structure would not explain the following result (quoted from the article):
A recent study published by the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that the subjects — mostly white, female undergraduates — viewed black boys as older and less innocent than their white peers. When photos of children were paired with descriptions of crimes, the subjects judged the black children to be more culpable for their actions than their white or Latino counterparts and estimated that they were an average of 4.5 years older than they actually were.
posted by en forme de poire at 8:57 AM on July 25 [16 favorites]


The amount of bible cited in defense of corporal punishment in that article, by public school officials, makes me pretty uncomfortable.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 8:58 AM on July 25 [26 favorites]


One interesting thing about suspensions and expulsions in public schools in the US: if a kid has been diagnosed with having an emotional / behavioral disability -- which happens to black and Hispanic boys disproportionately -- they can't be suspended for behavior related to that disability. But the parents have to know that, and they have to point it out to the school in a way the school will pay attention to.

This is a federal law; here's a link to a page about it. Spread the word.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:59 AM on July 25 [9 favorites]


I was suspended from kindergarten several times, for various types of 'acting out.' My kindergarten teacher decided I should be in a special school for emotionally disabled kids. If I hadn't had parents who were willing to raise hell and demand that I get a psychologist to evaluate me first, it might have happened.

The shrink said there was nothing wrong with me that time wouldn't fix, and two years later I was in advanced learner classes. But if it hadn't been for my mom and dad, I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that my kindergarten teacher could have dramatically affected the rest of my life for the worse.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:05 AM on July 25 [32 favorites]


Ugh, this is really upsetting. Thank you for posting. People need to know about this.
posted by Librarypt at 9:07 AM on July 25 [2 favorites]


I'd not leave a small child in a racist environment if I could at all help it, social change be damned.

And they would find this non-racist environment where?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:08 AM on July 25 [20 favorites]


That's also probably the big problem here (in terms of kids acting out): single-parent families where the father is absent.

You are saying really offensive and irrelevant things in this thread.
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:11 AM on July 25 [85 favorites]


But pre-school teachers do have a responsibility to the rest of the non-acting out class of kids, and with the pressures of their jobs it's understandable that they may feel it's impossible to find the time to treat the violent children with the help they need while also running the fun activities for the others.

Parents of the non-violent children are often the most vocal in demanding suspensions for the few who display difficult behaviour.
posted by colie at 9:12 AM on July 25 [1 favorite]


BUT THE THING IS THAT IT'S NOT ABOUT VIOLENCE IT'S ABOUT RACE
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:12 AM on July 25 [82 favorites]


What is suspension actually supposed to fix? Can kids that age really perceive consequences for their actions? Or is it just a day home with mom and/or dad?
posted by desjardins at 9:13 AM on July 25 [7 favorites]


I believe most educators want to help all children. But many aren’t aware of the biases and prejudices that they, like all of us, harbor, and our current system offers very little diversity training to preschool staff.

Pffft. Our current system offers little to no diversity training at ANY stage of the educational game.

When I was still pursuing my teaching credentials, I had a class called Education in a Diverse Society. The course materials had been written by the instructor, an extremely condescending white woman. I was already up to my ears in a fascinating and sometimes challenging student teaching placement in my city's historically Black high school, and was getting quite a cultural education. I found the EdDivSoc class irritating and outdated, but it was required, so I went.

During one class discussion, the instructor asked what we found challenging in our placements. I mentioned that it took a while for my students to warm up to me, the first few weeks they sort of treated me as if I were an alien life form, and it made connecting with them difficult. I noted that it was probably because the students had been taught to distrust white folks, and with good reason. She straight-facedly said that I should "learn Ebonics" to "get down to the level of those people".

"Those people", you guys. With a straight face! That she wasn't beaten bloody on the spot is a testament to the patience of my classmates, most of whom were PoC of some flavor or another.

If that's still what passes for "diversity training", we're screwed.
posted by MissySedai at 9:13 AM on July 25 [46 favorites]


What is suspension actually supposed to fix? Can kids that age really perceive consequences for their actions? Or is it just a day home with mom and/or dad?

Depends on the kid, but a developmentally typical 3 year old can figure out immediate consequences like time out, losing a toy, things like that. The next day might as well be the moon for most of them.

Considering that most parents have to work, it's more of a punishment for mom/dad/caretaker.
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:14 AM on July 25 [6 favorites]


BUT THE THING IS THAT IT'S NOT ABOUT VIOLENCE IT'S ABOUT RACE


Is is about race for the children who are on the receiving end of the disruptive and violent behaviour?
posted by colie at 9:15 AM on July 25 [1 favorite]


What is suspension actually supposed to fix? Can kids that age really perceive consequences for their actions? Or is it just a day home with mom and/or dad?

My suspicion is that it's mostly to punish the parents, who have to scramble to find alternative arrangements or miss work. This would be especially hard, I assume, if you were a single parent (unlike the writer) or if you were poor and in a lousy job.
posted by Frowner at 9:16 AM on July 25 [10 favorites]


Is is about race for the children who are on the receiving end of the disruptive and violent behaviour?

No, and I bet they'd appreciate if kids were disciplined based on what they actually do and not on their race. Unless it hurts less when a white kid hits you, which I somehow doubt.
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:17 AM on July 25 [36 favorites]


Is is about race for the children who are on the receiving end of the disruptive and violent behaviour?

Please RTFA.
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:17 AM on July 25 [59 favorites]


> Is is about race for the children who are on the receiving end of the disruptive and violent behaviour

No, because they're being hurt by both black kids and and white kids, but it's only the black kids who are getting suspended.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:17 AM on July 25 [40 favorites]


Is is about race for the children who are on the receiving end of the disruptive and violent behaviour?

Yes, if they're still getting hit by the white kids who are not suspended.

It's not about race or violence. It's about safety, equal treatment and clear standards. Or should be.
posted by tyllwin at 9:19 AM on July 25 [6 favorites]


It's this kind of article that really drives home just how different the experiences of black Americans can be.

When I was a teenager, I knew racism still existed. I'd seen overt racism, and I even believed that unconscious racial bias affected how we treated people. I wasn't exactly enlightened but I wasn't one of those head-in-the-sand types. But I never, never, ever suspected that it a was this pervasive and life-altering because as a white girl I wasn't subjected to it.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 9:21 AM on July 25 [11 favorites]


Parents of the non-violent children are often the most vocal in demanding suspensions for the few who display difficult behaviour.

But in a huge coincidence, the white kids who display as bad or worse behaviour, are only hurting children whose parents don't care. Go figure.
posted by jeather at 9:23 AM on July 25 [11 favorites]


Teaching Children to Calm Themselves

Children like Luke, who experience neglect, severe stress or sudden separation at a young age can be traumatized. Without appropriate adult support, trauma can interfere with healthy brain development, inhibiting children’s ability to make good decisions, use memory or use sequential thought processes to work through problems.

“Kids who have had significant chronic adversity become hypervigilant,” said Janine Hron, C.E.O. of the Crittenton Children’s Center, which developed the Head Start Trauma Smart program. “Their emotions overwhelm them. They have difficulty sleeping, difficulty tracking in class, they act out, and then they get kicked out of school. The numbers of people who are experiencing these traumas are really epidemic.”

As I have reported in this column, chronic childhood adversity is now understood to be far more prevalent than researchers have imagined. More than 50 percent of the children served by Head Start Trauma Smart have had three or more adverse childhood experiences. The list includes a family member incarcerated, an unexpected death in the family, depression, violence, abuse or drug use in the home, or periods of homelessness.


More about HSTS (PDF).

Wealthiest country on the planet, haven't had a ground war here in more than a century and we are still producing so many traumatized children that we have to develop pre-school treatment programs for them.
posted by rtha at 9:26 AM on July 25 [33 favorites]


Hell, I could never understand why suspension was supposed to be a punishment for high school kids. I am astonished to find that people apparently think four-year-olds, regardless of their race, can be expected to consistently follow any kind of rules, and that "suspension" will have some kind of behavioral modification effect on them.

But thinking about it more clearly, neither of those assumptions is necessarily supported by the article. It makes more sense if it really is just about expressing the (presumably - one would hope) unconscious racial animus of the teachers and administrators.
posted by Naberius at 9:29 AM on July 25 [1 favorite]


OK, my daughter is white and was attacked by a white kid; not really a relevant case and I stand corrected. I was just pointing out that most other parents very much wanted the difficult (white) kid suspended.

Hell, I could never understand why suspension was supposed to be a punishment for high school kids.


It's largely to get the kid away from the others for a bit so that they and their teachers get a break and the other kids hopefully don't adopt the same problematic behaviour. Contrary to what many in this thread are saying, 3 and 4 year old kids are not usually fighting and spitting at all.
posted by colie at 9:34 AM on July 25 [1 favorite]


I wonder if any of those parents who were shocked her child was suspended for behavior their own kids displayed are backing her up in this? I would like to see a follow on what she has done and what has happened.

Really sad and unfortunately way more common that we would like to admit, but usually there isn't any parents of white misbehaving students owning up to the fact thier kids got away with similiar bad behavior.

Along the same lines, I think it is way harder for a black or hispanic student to overcome a "bad reputation." Once they are labeled, they have a hell of a time overcoming it no matter how hard they try to be different. Nearly impossible and many times they have noone that has any idea of how to advocate for them effectively. Clearly not the case here, but even in this article, the younger brother may be seeing the effects of his older brothers actions.
posted by domino at 9:36 AM on July 25 [1 favorite]


showbiz_liz, I had a very, very similar experience to yours in my early days of kindergarten. Acting out in all kinds of ways, vocally and physically disruptive.

The school very much wanted to place me in the special education/developmental issues classrooms, but my father -- who was soon to be a largely absent father, but he did me this one huge solid before he left -- fought very hard for me to be tested for GT instead, and despite the hearty objections of the Broward County School Board, I was able to get tested and placed in GT classes.

Could have easily gone the other way though, in which case I probably wouldn't be here today to make this post on Metafilter.

I remember noticing very early on how the white kids were said to be playing around or "just" roughhousing -- even when there were tears and cries of pain -- whereas we black boys were accused of fighting for the same kinds of actions. Kids pick up on that at an early age: when my kids were just 3 & 5, they were both quick to speak up at even a whiff of imbalanced treatment toward them by me and their mom. Don't think for a second that the kids in this story aren't already thinking, as the tweet in the wake of the Zimmerman verdict cried in despair, "How many times we gotta be told we ain't shit?"

And speaking of that, I feel pretty strongly that a clear, bright line can be drawn from this mistreatment of black and brown kids as early as pre-school to the murders of Trayvon Martin, Oscar Grant, Eric Garner and many -- so very many -- others. After Trayvon Martin was killed, one of my dearest friends (white) said he looked at my son and wondered when it was society would go from seeing him as cute and adorable to viewing him as a threat to public safety. I can point him to some of the articles from this post to help him see that the transformation from cute to dangerous has likely already started.
posted by lord_wolf at 9:39 AM on July 25 [36 favorites]


I was shocked that preschoolers are suspended at all. Aren't they mostly miniature sociopaths?

No, no, no, not in my house growing up, ever. My mother had the Gift of bringing out the best in children who never misbehaved in her presence and all wanted to run away and live with us.

She never even had to raise her voice when I was a kid -- all she had to do was tell me I was "punished" and that sent me reeling for hours. There was no punishment -- but the disappointment was enough to get me to act more sensibly.

It all has to do with subtle expectations because children are practicing to be adults and if they are expected to be miniature sociopaths, they will oblige. I am surprised that children do not behave worse -- television, movies, video games, books, and music all celebrate that sort of destructive behavior. If teachers look at kids and expect them to be trouble, kids *will* become trouble because those are their unspoken marching orders.

So it is very likely a certain group or groups of children are entering a system that is rigged against them from day one. It's not some vast diabolical conspiracy, but it is a cycle that needs to be called out and be broken once and for all -- and if we keep looking down on future generations, that is where they are inevitably heading unless we start looking in opposite direction before it is too late...
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 9:40 AM on July 25 [5 favorites]


Contrary to what many in this thread are saying, 3 and 4 year old kids are not usually fighting and spitting at all.

So... you think the other parents the author of the first article talked to are lying? Or what?
posted by en forme de poire at 9:44 AM on July 25 [4 favorites]


Naberius: "I am astonished to find that people apparently think four-year-olds, regardless of their race, can be expected to consistently follow any kind of rules, and that "suspension" will have some kind of behavioral modification effect on them. "

It's almost like it works to establish notions in administration's minds, rather than have any relevancy to the child. </atwater>
posted by boo_radley at 9:46 AM on July 25 [2 favorites]


colie: "Contrary to what many in this thread are saying, 3 and 4 year old kids are not usually fighting and spitting at all."

Your experience may be different, which is fine, but this does not entitle you to contradict other commenters' experiences.
posted by desuetude at 9:47 AM on July 25 [12 favorites]


Contrary to what many in this thread are saying, 3 and 4 year old kids are not usually fighting and spitting at all.

That's like saying "Adults are not usually found at work" just because they only spend 40/168 of the time there. Just because 3-4 year old kids are not usually fighting and spitting doesn't mean that fighting and spitting is uncommon.
posted by 23skidoo at 9:51 AM on July 25 [15 favorites]


My kid has been called "easy" about a million times by daycare/preschool teachers. They basically fight to have him in their classrooms. He has definitely done things like spit when he's tired and overwhelmed. It happens.

Kids pick up on whether or not you like them and they're largely powerless. Imagine being stuck somewhere where the person in charge of everything--food, water, whether you go to the bathroom, your activities--is someone who thinks you're dangerous or a bad person. It has to be really awful for these kids.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:06 AM on July 25 [10 favorites]


But, at the same time, I don't think a developmentally typical 3yo is all that bad and I wouldn't call them sociopaths (although they are not as good at impulse control and social skills as a typical adult would be, obviously!). They have their moments, but they are definitely less aggressive and more pleasant overall than 2yos. That said, shit happens.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:08 AM on July 25


> Kids pick up on whether or not you like them and they're largely powerless

Especially when they're "restrained at school through the use of a mechanical device or equipment designed to restrict their freedom of movement."
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:09 AM on July 25 [2 favorites]


My kid bit more than once. He was never suspended, although we were expected to take it seriously. Come to find out, he was biting kids as a form of self-defense when they bugged him, so we managed to get the staff involved in dealing with the bullying going on.

Suspending him would have fixed none of that. But we didn't have to worry because yep, white people.
posted by emjaybee at 10:10 AM on July 25 [5 favorites]


colie: "Contrary to what many in this thread are saying, 3 and 4 year old kids are not usually fighting and spitting at all."

Colie, this has been responded to by a few different people, but I'd like to call out one particular thing that resonates with me. The article mentions the Head Start Trauma Smart program. My sister works at a school for 13-18 year olds who have their own children. This system was designed to help teens complete high school, and work to socialize them and their kids without the stigma of being teen mothers.

Some of the babies and teenagers she works with have actual, diagnosed PTSD. Whether it's from family environments, prenatal substance abuse, prenatal malnutrition or any number of other factors, she works with some children who are genuinely traumatized. Our state regulations mandate 1 adult for every 6 children in normal circumstances. Her employer has mandated 1 adult: 4 children simply because of the additional overhead that

Even agreeing with you that a normative 4 year old is not a spitting fighter, the children themselves deserve better than to be isolated away from their peers. Isolation does not help the child to deal with their behaviors, and provides no support mechanism to ensure basic levels of care, socialization or education. This is not to suggest that non-problematic children should suffer at the whims of children who do have trauma or emotional issues, but rote reliance on suspension alone is insufficient for schools to carry out their mission and obligation to children.

One additional thing:

colie: "Is it about race for the children who are on the receiving end of the disruptive and violent behaviour?"

Please understand that this reads like a post hoc ergo propter hoc statement. These suspensions are used in excess of actual violent behavior -- supposing that any child suspended must necessarily be violent belies the complexities of the situation.
posted by boo_radley at 10:12 AM on July 25 [4 favorites]


The thing about systemic structural racism is that you can always find excuses for individual instances. "Oh, well that black kid deserved to be suspended at 3 because it was particularly bad chair throwing and he felt no remorse. It's different than that white kid who wasn't suspended for the same behavior because she was just having a hard day." That's exactly why it's an issue at a societal level.

We can't get suckered in to nitpicking examples when the headline is "This happens disproportionately if you're not white." It's not about toddlers in the individual. It's about how they're treated differently in the aggregate based on RACE.
posted by stoneweaver at 10:24 AM on July 25 [41 favorites]


On re-reading I agree with the criticism of my comments here, they were inaccurate and insensitive; only one thing is that I still don't really go for the 'boys will be boys' kind of tone about kids spitting/biting/fighting that perhaps followed here and perhaps that's what set me off on the wrong path.

The general shock and gravity that greeted the repeated biting in my kid's (very ordinary) daycare centre was part of what helped mobilise constructive help for the boy, rather than 'it happens'.
posted by colie at 10:30 AM on July 25 [6 favorites]


Contrary to what many in this thread are saying, 3 and 4 year old kids are not usually fighting and spitting at all.

I don't think this is true.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:31 AM on July 25 [1 favorite]


What happened to Time Out? Spitting/throwing chairs are both bad behaviours, even for 3-4 year olds, but the remedy I'm most familiar with is a quick time out and a note to the parents. I cannot imagine suspending a child unless there was serious harmful aggression towards another child or teacher, or extended repeated episodes of spitting/throwing chairs.
posted by furtive at 10:37 AM on July 25


The idea of suspending preschoolers is just bizarre. Throwing things? That's what quiet time or corner time is for -- some mini-punishment that enforces behavior on the time-horizon of a small child. You throw the toy, you can't play with the toys during this playtime, etc. If a child has such serious issues that they are a hazard to other children in the classroom, they may need disability services of some kind, but suspension is nuts.
posted by tavella at 10:40 AM on July 25


Why are black students being paddled more in the public schools?
Whoa, wait, seriously? Let's back up a minute here: Why are students being paddled in the public schools?
posted by Flunkie at 10:41 AM on July 25 [11 favorites]


Flunkie, here is a recent article on that. Still legal in 19 states.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:42 AM on July 25 [1 favorite]


On re-reading I agree with the criticism of my comments here, they were inaccurate and insensitive; only one thing is that I still don't really go for the 'boys will be boys' kind of tone about kids spitting/biting/fighting that perhaps followed here and perhaps that's what set me off on the wrong path.

Hey, thanks for thinking that through. I agree all the anecdotes about our individual kids' behavior were a bit de-raily to start.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:44 AM on July 25 [3 favorites]


Wow, so a lot of you would consider my kids are little monsters. Calling the kid a spitter/fighter because, as far as we can tell from the article he threw a chair twice and spit once? Both of my kids are adored by any teachers they have. The older one occasionally gets mad and has started trying out throwing things in frustration. I'm sure many of you adults have done the same. He's also hit other kids and been hit by other kids (I know, I've filled out the incident reports). Usually they are on accident, sometimes not. My younger son routinely throws things in frustration and is a giant compared to his peers. Learning to "use your words" is a common core part of preschool age daycares. We innately act out physically, and 3-4 year olds haven't learn much control over their innate urges. Which is not to say that there shouldn't be consequences, time outs, removal of toy privileges, etc. But it should be worked on at the school as well at home, suspension doesn't allow for that. Removal from school should be a last resort when it is clear the parents aren't working on behaviors at home and when the child is an actual threat to the other children.

More importantly, consequences should be fairly distributed across all children and parents. I'm shocked at the flagrancy of the racism of this school.
posted by katers890 at 10:54 AM on July 25 [1 favorite]


Wow, so a lot of you would consider my kids are little monsters.

Some of us consider our own kids little Monsters, too. ;)

(Realistic parents who understand that children just don't have fully matured filters in place make jokes. It's either that, or tear our hair out.)
posted by MissySedai at 11:04 AM on July 25 [7 favorites]


en forme de poire: “Also, any differences in family structure would not explain the following result (quoted from the article):
A recent study published by the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that the subjects — mostly white, female undergraduates — viewed black boys as older and less innocent than their white peers. When photos of children were paired with descriptions of crimes, the subjects judged the black children to be more culpable for their actions than their white or Latino counterparts and estimated that they were an average of 4.5 years older than they actually were.
That was the thing that stunned me. People over-estimate the ages of black kids by 4.5 years? I suppose that explains, at least in part, that case in Metro Atlanta where the police officers drew down on 11-year-olds building a tree fort. God, we have such a long way to go.
posted by ob1quixote at 11:06 AM on July 25 [7 favorites]


Spitting on another child is not normal at daycare centres for kids aged 2-4 and is indeed an indicator of problems that need addressing with this child.

Indeed, you have to wonder what this kid did to get spat on.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:10 AM on July 25 [2 favorites]


Pffft. Our current system offers little to no diversity training at ANY stage of the educational game.

Why would anyone think that a "training" would do anything to change teacher responses to very young children in an environment where you are desperately trying to keep the hill cannibals from taking over? All of your prejudices against children, and black children are going to come right out despite how devoutly liberal you see yourself as being... and as you noted, and you can see in this thread, many people aren't so devout.

The problem comes down to the fact that raising very young children is built on a foundation of you/your parents/your grandparents/your friends/your religious leaders/your political leaders/etc. prejudices about the world, not just about race. The idea that you can have some sort of objective, child-raising training which will allow any arbitrary person from an arbitrary cultural background raise children of some other arbitrary background assumes the enforcing of a whole set of normative assumptions that good liberal white people don't necessarily want to discuss. Especially since black people in the US often have expectations of child rearing closer the religious South than open-minded liberal education professors: spare the rod, etc.

But the really sad thing is that black teachers can enforce prejudices against little black boys even more harshly than non-diversity trained white people.
posted by ennui.bz at 11:15 AM on July 25 [1 favorite]


I run a non-profit preschool and I have really mixed feelings about this. The thing to remember about preschools is that we are licensed by the state and any serious incident has to be reported and can jeopardize our license. So when a child is behaving in a way that endangers themselves or others we get put in a tough spot.

My school has a bit of a reputation in the community as being a place that will take kids who've been asked to leave other centers. We've done a lot of researching and training in trauma informed care, we have low ratios and educated teachers so we can sometimes do more than other places to help kids be successful. I'd say the number one thing a parent can do to ensure their child isn't suspended or expelled is to be engaged. I don't necessarily need them to have solutions in mind but I want them to be willing to come to the table.

I think we've only asked one child to leave in the past 4 years but even then it felt like a huge failure on our part. There's also a difference between saying, "this child is too bad to be in school" and "this school cannot meet your child's complex needs and we worry if they continue to come they'll get hurt."

I feel like this problem would be best addressed by creating public preschools (that would be free) that would be specially suited to work with children with behavior problems or trauma histories (usually both) but the state is pretty bad across the board at providing compassionate, high quality, helpful care for vulnerable populations.
posted by Saminal at 11:30 AM on July 25 [7 favorites]


My personal experience with watching a large group of toddlers interact with each other is primarily at the play area at the mall, where each child should have a familiar, watchful guardian monitoring and correcting behavior.

I have noticed that in the two years I have been going to the same mall on a near weekly basis, that the obligatory (though thankfully few) over-aggressive, spastic "little shits" have been:

a. male

b. with either of the most inattentive or over attentive, but ineffectual supervisors.

The inattentive supervisors have statistically been primarily hispanic
The over-attentive, ineffectual supervisors have statistically been primarily caucasian

The resulting behaviors in these "little shits" hitting, unwanted hugging/grabbing, spitting, throwing things (at people), pushing, etc. however, are the same.

Luckily, my daughter has only been shoved/pushed/hit twice in two years, and both times I didn't physically witness the incident, so I just calmed her down. One time we left (she said a kid had pushed her off of the top of a slide... I only saw her fall). The other time (she said a kid ran by her several times and pushed her head each time, but "it was fine because he's leaving now") she resumed playing.

Since the time she fell/was pushed off of the slide, I don't check emails at the kid park anymore, and keep a close eye out on what's going around her. I have witnessed a crap ton of extremely poor behavior, primarily by little boys (though a few girls), and have thanked my lucky stars that my daughter wasn't in arms' reach of these kids. *I certainly wouldn't want to have to explain to the police, my wife, the Judge, and Child Services why I thought it was a good idea (brown, white or fucking polka-dotted) to launch a five-year old across the playground and then get into a brawl with the kid's parent.

*I'm kidding, of course.... I think....
posted by Debaser626 at 11:30 AM on July 25


So when a child is behaving in a way that endangers themselves or others we get put in a tough spot.

Yeah, but that's not what the article is about. The article is about Black children being punished disproportionately to white children for the same offense.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:32 AM on July 25 [10 favorites]


"restrained at school through the use of a mechanical device or equipment designed to restrict their freedom of movement."

It may just be a state-by-state thing, but I'm astonished to hear that they're pulling this shit on little kids. My work with the developmentally disabled included one-on-one with one of literally three or four people in the state whose program included wearing a (Hannibal Lecter-looking, which I appreciated) mask, which he earned doing a lot of damage, and we had nothing of that sort for him, much less any of the generally less dramatic examples I have in mind.

In my experience, anyway, employees can hold someone down for an hour (with mandated attempts to let them up every fifteen minutes at the very minimum), and if that isn't going to cut it one contacts the police so that they can come along and administer cuffs/be responsible for what happens next. When an hour is elapsed the consumer needs to be let up whether they've calmed or not, and I only heard a few stories about that.
posted by mr. digits at 11:37 AM on July 25


35 likes for the importance of Dads and no comments about about the structural differences in family composition between whites, blacks, Hispanics and Asians even when controlling for poverty. It is abundantly clear that race is the most powerful predictor of academic suspensions but it effect shrinks when also controlling for single parent family (still controlling for poverty. Of course this probably still represents structural racism but is not a factor to be overlooked. As is the racial/ethnic composition of the teachers.
posted by rmhsinc at 11:39 AM on July 25


> "little shits"

Please don't. That's my child you're talking about.

And "spastic" isn't a good choice for an insult, either.
posted by The corpse in the library at 11:39 AM on July 25 [10 favorites]


Students with disabilities make up about 12 percent of the student population, but they make up 75 percent of those restrained at schools. There's a racial gap there, too: blacks are about 19 percent of the population with a disability, but make up more than a third of students who "are restrained at school through the use of a mechanical device or equipment designed to restrict their freedom of movement.

Does anyone have more information on this? I'm not understanding what these mechanical devices or equipment even are, frankly. What would be a *good* movement-restriction device and when would be a *good* time to use it? Also, there are a lot of racial discrepancies in terms of whether kids are diagnosed with a disability and what disability a kid is diagnosed with, especially when it comes to disabilities that have to be diagnosed based on behavior. I'm wondering if these movement-restricting devices are being used primarily on kids with physical disabilities or kids with psychological disabilities or kids with intellectual disabilities or what (or, since there's so much overlap there, my fundamental question is: what kinds of behavior or needs would a kid display that would result in that kid being placed in a movement-restricted device?). I'm wondering if some kinds of disabilities are disproportionately "treated" in schools through restricting the kids' movement, and whether those disabilities are disproprotionately diagnosed in black kids. I also wonder about these movement-restriction devices being used as punishments rather than for safety (which imo is inappropriate in the extreme, but of course maybe I haven't heard all the ways/reasons kids might have their movement restricted?!), and how that overlaps with adults assuming that a kid is "innocent" as opposed to assuming that a kid's misbehavior is intentional or a sign of a displine problem.

Anyway -- I believe that the WashPo writer is correct that a lot of the discrepency between the punishments black students receive and the punishments their white counterparts receive is due to racism, but I also wonder how de facto segregation plays into it? Even in relatively diverse schools, kids often end up in de facto racially segregated "academic tracking," and many (most?) schools in the US aren't racially diverse in the first place. Not that the segregation itself isn't a sign of structural racism -- it is. But I wonder if that segregation itself is leading to different educational disciplinary "traditions," where some schools/regions punish students much more harshly (or lightly) than would be considered acceptable elsewhere altogether? The paddling article touched on it, but I wish the NPR article, especially, had, too -- because they kept mixing up national stats (such as the proportion of preschoolers who are black, nationally) with school-specific stats (such as the proportion of a school's or county's student body that's black) without comparing the overall suspension rates for majority-minority v. majority-white schools, or how the racial discrepancy between how students were punished held up within particular schools/counties/regions, or considering the race of administrators at all.

I thought the peddling article would go into it further and ask those kinds of questions and supply those kinds of statistics, when they touched on it with phrases like this:

In Holmes County, where 99 percent of the public school children are black, students say corporal punishment traditionally starts at daycare and Head Start centers, where teachers rap preschool-age students lightly with rulers and pencils, cautioning: “Just wait until you get to big school.”

They didn't, though, that I could see. It sounded from that article as though displine was overall harsher, and corpral punishments were more likely to be present, in schools that had a large/majority black population -- both in terms of the students *and* the administrators, and that people were defending the harsh punishments on the basis of race (ie, saying things like, black students need to be punished more severely because they face harsher consequences within society in general, or that harsh punishment is a religious or community tradition, etc). That's just the sense I got, though, and it could be wrong. Was anyone able to find comparisons like that (in these articles or elsewhere)? Or are those comparisons irrelevent -- and if so, why?
posted by rue72 at 11:55 AM on July 25


35 likes for the importance of Dads and no comments about about the structural differences in family composition

You took the time to comment on a lack of comments about a specific thing instead of commenting on that specific thing, with links and stuff?
posted by rtha at 11:59 AM on July 25 [8 favorites]


The devices often are isolation rooms: padded, windowless rooms where the children are locked. They are not therapeutic. They are used for punishment. Here's an article with an amusingly bad piece of clip art.
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:02 PM on July 25 [1 favorite]


colie: "On re-reading I agree with the criticism of my comments here, they were inaccurate and insensitive; only one thing is that I still don't really go for the 'boys will be boys' kind of tone about kids spitting/biting/fighting that perhaps followed here and perhaps that's what set me off on the wrong path. "

Fair enough. Thank you for saying this.
posted by desuetude at 12:04 PM on July 25 [4 favorites]


my fundamental question is: what kinds of behavior or needs would a kid display that would result in that kid being placed in a movement-restricted device?

Assuming the school standards are similar to the ones that I'm familiar with (for physical restraint, not mechanical) it's probably restricted to serious damage to themselves, damage to others, or breaking things that are significant; kicking holes in the wall may qualify, but going after windows or televisions are more standard examples. Whatever the case, if a person is likely to be subject to restraint they likely have a social worker who develops a specific program defining what qualifies and what doesn't so that employees aren't acting independently. If one is applying "emergency restraints" against a consumer who doesn't have a legitimate program the cause had better be obvious.
posted by mr. digits at 12:20 PM on July 25 [1 favorite]


(I'm speaking of the developmentally disabled population, among whom mental illness is not rare per se; I don't know about the standard population.)
posted by mr. digits at 12:24 PM on July 25


my fundamental question is: what kinds of behavior or needs would a kid display that would result in that kid being placed in a movement-restricted device?

I suspect this also includes adaptive devices - I have a friend who works with special needs kids who uses things like compression or weighted vests to calm down some of her students and help them focus. Use of any device is very regulated and there are strict time limits, even if the student finds it useful.
posted by fermezporte at 12:29 PM on July 25


35 likes for the importance of Dads and no comments about about the structural differences in family composition between whites, blacks, Hispanics and Asians even when controlling for poverty.

We are talking here about kids WITH THE SAME BEHAVIOR who are not getting suspended.

So even if having dad in prison (which is a condition that is far more likely to affect black families because systemic racism is systemic) makes you more likely to bite, that's not what the article is talking about. It's talking about how two kids doing the same thing get different punishments.

Between this and kokuryu's comments I'm really kind of irritated.
posted by the young rope-rider at 12:40 PM on July 25 [31 favorites]


The inattentive supervisors have statistically been primarily hispanic
The over-attentive, ineffectual supervisors have statistically been primarily caucasian


No, they haven't been. Do reading about Confirmation Bias. Also, you can't tell if someone is white or hispanic by looking at them. Plenty of people don't look like our stereotypes of their race. But, mostly, your observation can be chalked up to confirmation bias. I am very certain about this, even though I wasn't there. We see what we're expecting to see, because we are apes that sort things into boxes in our heads. We dismiss the things we're not expecting, and literally do not see them.
posted by stoneweaver at 12:48 PM on July 25 [16 favorites]


I suspect this also includes adaptive devices - I have a friend who works with special needs kids who uses things like compression or weighted vests to calm down some of her students and help them focus. Use of any device is very regulated and there are strict time limits, even if the student finds it useful.

Yeah, I was thinking of adaptive devices, too. But that got me wondering about black kids being disproportionately subjected to mechanical devices for restraining movement, because they're also disproportionately *unlikely* to be diagnosed for ASD as compared to their white counterparts -- not because they likely have lower rates of ASD in actuality, but because of a racial disparity in terms of how similar behaviors are read/diagnosed across different racial groups. I would think that physical disability rates are likely similar across racial groups, because they usually have clearer and more objective diagnostic criteria, but of course I could be wrong about that. Fundamentally, I'm wondering if black kids are disproportionately likely to be diagnosed with an emotional/psychological disability (which would also make sense in terms of the high PD rate for the prison population and how disproportionately black the prison population is as a whole, and which I *suspect* (but don't have data on, so if anyone else does, please share?) that the same is true for the juvenile "delinquent" population), and I'm also wondering if black kids are disproportionately likely to be subject to mechanical movement-restriction devices as "treatment" for PD? To me, using movement restriction devices for PD is probably the toughest-to-justify-as-therapeutic use for them, so if they're not just being used disproportionately frequently on black children but *also* being used more frequently *as punishment rather than treatment/therapy* on black children, that's it's own issue. And I think goes back into the idea that black kids are subject to harsher disciplinary measures, even in cases where either the type of discipline (ie, paddling, mechanical restraints) or the justification for the discipline (ie, behavior stemming from the child's disability or as justification for a disability diagnosis) would be very unlikely to be used for those kids' white counterparts at all.

And of course, I think it's likely that behavior that would be read by adults as "disobedience" in a black child would be read as "disability-related" in his white counterpart. The articles here came *so close* to talking about that, but in the end didn't, and I'm not really sure why they didn't? Or was that implied and they sorta-kinda *did* discuss it?
posted by rue72 at 12:50 PM on July 25 [1 favorite]


I worked with kids for a long time and just knowing how much kids will internalize what's going on around them, just ugh. My heart breaks for those boys. And the mother. I want to squeeze all of them and tell them they matter.
posted by Bacon Bit at 1:30 PM on July 25 [5 favorites]


I worked with kids for a long time and just knowing how much kids will internalize what's going on around them, just ugh. My heart breaks for those boys. And the mother. I want to squeeze all of them and tell them they matter.

Mr... Mr. Rodgers? ... is it really you?
posted by RolandOfEld at 1:40 PM on July 25


Unfortunately no. If I were Mr. Rogers I would've cloned myself and put one of me in every classroom in America. Imagine the awesome world we'd be living in.
posted by Bacon Bit at 2:11 PM on July 25 [13 favorites]


I really do not how to state any more clearly that race is the major factor in he school suspensions--I said "It is abundantly clear that race is the most powerful predictor of academic suspensions but it effect shrinks when also controlling for single parent family" I guess i should have posted some supporting data--i really did not think it was that controversial. Rather than digging myself in deeper I did run across this report from the Toronto Board of Education clearly showing that race is a powerfully associated with school suspension as is family preference/structure. Family structure is also suggested as a variable in numerous US publications but I am too tired to keep on looking for the specific references, I noted early this AM, which independent control for suspension/race/poverty and family demographics
posted by rmhsinc at 2:13 PM on July 25 [1 favorite]


I was actually expelled from pre-school. I was a precocious child.

I do remember it, and I remember what a big deal it was. I think the idea these kids are internalizing that they are bad kids at a young age and it's affecting their future behaviors is very true.
posted by fshgrl at 2:13 PM on July 25 [6 favorites]


I was a runner, not a fighter for anyone who's wondering. I guess they got sick of me climbing or tunneling my way out and taking off.
posted by fshgrl at 2:31 PM on July 25 [5 favorites]


I really do not how to state any more clearly that race is the major factor in he school suspensions

Then I guess I was even more confused than I thought by your earlier comment since this is literally what the thread is about - every single one of the links - and no one here that I can see disputes this. The corpse's challenge was specifically to Kokuryu's defaulting to "Mom" as if "Mom" is the only parent who can provide attachment or parenting.
posted by rtha at 2:57 PM on July 25 [4 favorites]


rmhsinc, any problems which may or may not be associated with single-parent families are not the focus of this article. The child of the author here has two involved parents, and you even acknowledge in the same comment that per your recollection, having a single parent is a weaker predictor of disciplinary action than a child's race. So I'm not sure how single parenthood is relevant to this story or why we should be so eager to discuss it.
posted by en forme de poire at 3:06 PM on July 25 [8 favorites]


en forme de poire--it certainly is not the focus but the first comments about family structure and 47 likes about dads were before my comments--I am intrigued by what is determined as a derail or non derail--sometimes I do get frustrated that when a social issue becomes identified as race (racism) based it is often difficult to further dissect the discussion and issue. I was not responding to this particular writer but the issue in general. But I do sincerely appreciate you and rtha taking the time to provide feedback--
posted by rmhsinc at 3:19 PM on July 25


I realize you're not the only one who brought it up and I had a similar response to the first person to mention it. And as rtha has already mentioned, the comment about dads stated that both male and female parents can provide emotional attachment and support to children, in response to another comment that suggested kids who acted out weren't getting enough time with their mothers. That comment had nothing to do with single-parent households, which is why I'm confused as to why you keep referring to it.
posted by en forme de poire at 5:29 PM on July 25 [1 favorite]


But the really sad thing is that black teachers can enforce prejudices against little black boys even more harshly than non-diversity trained white people.

THAT IS NOT THE REALLY SAD THING
posted by allthinky at 7:04 PM on July 25 [7 favorites]


The child of the author here has two involved parents

Seriously, comments that ignore/gloss over this to talk about absent fathers are really...ignorant is the nicest word I can think of.
posted by sweetkid at 7:39 PM on July 25 [2 favorites]


They have their moments, but they are definitely less aggressive and more pleasant overall than 2yos. That said, shit happens.

Heh. Every parent I know has had a more difficult time with 3-4 than 2. My kid didn't start kicking during tantrums until she became a threenager.

I ran a coop preschool for 8 kids last year. Every single one of them was from a stable upper-middle-class family, with engaged, thoughtful parents. We all followed the same basic "peaceful" parenting philosophy. And every single one of them hit, push, or threw something at least once a month. And there were a couple kids who definitely had biting incidents. Never once would we have considered suspending a child for behaving in a developmentally appropriate manner.

I mean, we can speculate all we want about whether black kids are more likely to grow up fatherless or spanked or whatever, but the bottom line is that the black kids are not being given the luxury of being three. They don't get to have bad days or feel strong emotions. No, their acting out has to be pathological.

And it doesn't stop there. I went to a majority-black school with a horrendous dropout rate. I read books under the desk because I was bored and got rewarded with quiet reading time. My classmate drew cartoons for the same reason and got suspension. It doesn't take long before kids figure out that they can't win, and then we wonder why they quit playing.
posted by snickerdoodle at 7:40 PM on July 25 [23 favorites]


And they would find this non-racist environment where?

I wouldn't be afraid to homeschool. Or find a school with a predominantly black student body and faculty. Because you're kidding yourself if you think that something like that doesn't matter in terms of how minority children are treated.

I was that little brown/black kid once; This ain't my first rodeo.
posted by GoLikeHellMachine at 7:56 PM on July 25 [2 favorites]



I was that little brown/black kid once

I'm increasingly convinced this brown/black slash "POC" thing isn't cutting it - black kids seem to be treated exponentially worse than anything I could even imagine.
posted by sweetkid at 8:03 PM on July 25 [1 favorite]


But the really sad thing is that black teachers can enforce prejudices against little black boys even more harshly than non-diversity trained white people.

This is, unfortunately, true. I was one of a bare handful of not African-American teachers, and my supervising teacher was SO much harder on the students, SO very...complicit...in enforcing the stereotypes. It hurt my heart so deeply.

Racism and misogyny go shockingly hand in hand. Those who are affected the most internalize it and perpetuate it, even when it affects them adversely, and it's SO FUCKING HARD to break out of that.
posted by MissySedai at 8:53 PM on July 25


Still THAT IS NOT THE REALLY SAD THING MissySedal.
posted by sweetkid at 9:05 PM on July 25


Still THAT IS NOT THE REALLY SAD THING MissySedal.

Oh, lovey, I completely agree with you! But it's A sad thing, and it makes me incredibly angry that these children have to deal with ANY of it.

When you're three and Brown, being told you're Very Bad - by a Brown person or a White person - is dehumanizing and painful already. When you're three and Brown and being told you're Very Bad, even though the White kids are behaving worse than you are and are not even being called Naughty, let alone Very Bad? That's super shitty and wrong on top of things.
posted by MissySedai at 9:28 PM on July 25


I'm increasingly convinced this brown/black slash "POC" thing isn't cutting it

Oh? Why? And let me ask you: Are you a person of color (or a "'POC' thing", as you put it)?

Some of us are both. Some of us are a mixture of a lot of things, all non-white. I'm not trying to play oppression Olympics here, not at all. I recognize that the article cited is specifically about what happens to black boys--not black girls, not brown/black boys and girls, not brown boys or girls. But there are many, many places where these things will intersect and all people of color are at a disadvantage. Racism can be an insidious and greatly damaging event or series of events, not just for black, black/brown, or black/brown/native, and so on, but for all of us people of color (or "POC" as you scare quote it).
posted by GoLikeHellMachine at 12:29 AM on July 26


Heh. Every parent I know has had a more difficult time with 3-4 than 2. My kid didn't start kicking during tantrums until she became a threenager.

I totally have a harder time with 3-yos! I still think 3yos are typically much less aggressive, though (my experience has been with boys). Less aggressive, but better at pushing buttons (and more into pushing buttons!)

Anyway...
posted by the young rope-rider at 6:21 AM on July 26




Across age groups, black students are three times more likely than white students to be suspended.

They're ignorant. They're ingrates. No matter what you do for 'em, it isn't enough. That's just the way these people are.
posted by flabdablet at 8:15 AM on July 26 [1 favorite]


flabdablet: “Which doll is the bad doll?
Jesus wept.
posted by ob1quixote at 9:35 AM on July 26 [2 favorites]


I'm increasingly convinced this brown/black slash "POC" thing isn't cutting it

Oh? Why? And let me ask you: Are you a person of color (or a "'POC' thing", as you put it)?


Yeah, I am a person of color/POC. I don't like the term but also don't have much of an alternative.

As an South Asian American I feel some guilt that racism doesn't impact me in the ways it does so called "unfavored" minorities. That's all I meant.
posted by sweetkid at 4:41 PM on July 26 [3 favorites]


there are many, many places where these things will intersect and all people of color are at a disadvantage. Racism can be an insidious and greatly damaging event or series of events, not just for black, black/brown, or black/brown/native, and so on, but for all of us people of color (or "POC" as you scare quote it)

In one sense we're all people of color. Personally I'm mostly kind of pinkish, so that would make my standard POC label "white".

There is nothing in pigmentation that says anything even slightly relevant about a person's inherent worth as a human being, and in 2014 you'd only rarely find an educated adult willing to admit to believing any different. But it does serve (along with eye shape and to a lesser extent eye color) as one of several instant, irrefutable, unavoidable tribal identification markers. And if you're easily marked as belonging to one of the tribes that for the last few hundred years has been treated as inferior within the culture where you live, then in 2014 you are still likely to be living with the experience of being shat upon daily in a multitude of ways both subtle and gross.

I've frequently heard this fact twisted to justify racism on the grounds that it's in some way a hardwired feature: "You think the abos have it bad here? Try being white in Japan. It's the same thing everywhere. It's human nature, you're never gonna change it."

I find that kind of complacency utterly repulsive.

I know for a fact that I have personally internalized a huge amount of prejudice about people whose tribal markers are different from mine. In 2014, as Jane Elliott points out, for me not to have done so would make me a very poor learner.

As the heartbreaking doll test I linked above clearly demonstrates, the direction of those inherited prejudices has much more to do with prevailing cultural attitudes than with the skin color of the people into whom they're being inculcated. So I don't believe that any of us, regardless of skin color, gets a free pass on self-examination and the need to challenge our early-learned assumptions about race. Racism - and sexism and all the other forms of tribal-marker-based oppression - damage and diminish all of us and they remain cultural features because of things that all of us are wrong about.

That said, I believe it absolutely is the responsibility of members of the locally dominant tribe to double- and triple-check their internal reactions before choosing to exercise power over members of some other tribe. And of course this is occasionally going to result in somebody who simply doesn't deserve the benefit of the doubt being given it, and that sucks. But it sucks less than adding one more steaming turd to the shitpile being carried every day by the customarily oppressed.

The only way we're ever not going to need to deal with that sucky choice is to shift our whole culture around to the idea that it's the way you treat other people, not the tribe you belong to, that defines your worth as a human being.

I don't think tribes or tribal markers are ever going to go away. I think the ability and tendency to observe and sort and classify is hardwired, as is a likely bias toward stronger default empathy with those perceived as more like oneself. But as the doll test clearly and tragically demonstrates, that bias is easily swamped by learned responses.

In the twenty-first century it's about time we were using that fact to dismantle the machinery of structural oppression rather than reinforce it, and disproportionate punishments for black preschool kids is not helping.
posted by flabdablet at 8:44 PM on July 26 [4 favorites]


The devices often are isolation rooms: padded, windowless rooms where the children are locked. [...]
posted by The corpse in the library at 6:02 AM on July 26 [+] [!]


Eponytragical.
posted by Joe in Australia at 11:56 PM on July 26


> No, because they're being hurt by both black kids and and white kids, but it's only the black kids who are getting suspended.

My reading skills are in serious decline. I missed this info the first time I read the article:

... I would have continued to blame myself had I not taken the boys to a birthday party for one of JJ’s classmates. At the party, the mothers congregated to talk about everyday parenting things, including preschool. As we talked, I admitted that JJ had been suspended three times. All of the mothers were shocked at the news.

“JJ?” one mother asked.

“My son threw something at a kid on purpose and the kid had to be rushed to the hospital,” another parent said. “All I got was a phone call.”

One after another, white mothers confessed the trouble their children had gotten into. Some of the behavior was similar to JJ’s; some was much worse.

Most startling: None of their children had been suspended.

posted by marsha56 at 12:13 PM on July 27 [1 favorite]


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