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what do you think?

August 21, 2008

An update on the property The Bridge is considering purchasing is coming.  In the meantime, I just read this article about a French schoolteacher who slapped an 11 year old student that responded with an “unprintable word” when asked to straighten up his desk.  The reason it’s getting so much attention is that since the teacher was fined $750 and put in jail for 24 hrs, over 40,000 parents have written to him saying that they would support his actions if it were their child cussing at him.

This is a hard issue for a lot of Christians I know.  I see that the limits on a teacher’s options for discipline are almost so small that students can do nearly anything without fear of serious punishment.  On the other hand, Christians are supposed to be people of grace and mercy who understand and respect each parent’s decisions about their child’s discipline.  I don’t think anyone’s “for” hitting children, but but have we gotten so sensitive that when good discipline happens it isn’t tolerated anymore?

What do you think?  How should we respond to something like this in both grace and truth?

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15 Comments leave one →
  1. Becky permalink
    August 21, 2008 11:28 pm

    Don’t get me started on lack of discipline with kids today! ;0) I think the teacher should obey the rules put in place where he works and I can’t think of any place that would allow slapping a student. But I truly feel it has ended up being discrimination against the teachers. It is so frustrating to feel like your hands are tied and you can’t do anything…and the kids know it. There are some that are SO defiant they will look you in the eye and tell you no. There have to be limits set but the problem is that if these kids don’t have limits set at home, they aren’t automatically gonna set limits for themselves elsewhere. Some parents don’t care, some won’t take the time, some think their children shouldn’t be told no, some really think they are doing what they should. Truth is, parenting is hard work and takes lots of time. And TONS of prayer. By the way, if you ever see my kids anywhere acting up ~ call them on it and tell me!!

  2. Justin permalink
    August 22, 2008 12:58 am

    In my opinion I dont think you can call what the teacher did to the student “discipline.” Maybe abuse. The slap probably worked and got the kid to straighten his desk but pragmatism isn’t the standard we should use when “disciplining” kids.

    It seems that the teacher didnt get what he wanted (respect, obedience) so he took matters into his own hands. He wanted to be treated like God. This is the normal sinners response when they dont get what they want. Sin to get something and sin if they dont get it.

    The teacher didnt just desire respect; he demanded it. When we discipline our children we must discipline them with love and truth. A wise counselor told me that “childrens hearts are never won by force.”

    How can we respond to sin with grace instead punishing anger we disguise as “discipline”? We can pay attention to our hearts. Are we wanting to be treated with respect because we demand it or do we desire that our kids see Jesus and love him and when they sin against us they are primarily sinning against a Holy and Majestic God. We can slow down and point them to this truth.

    I am probably rambling here but responding with grace and truth takes planning and praying and worshiping . Discipline belongs to God not us. All things were created by Him and for Him. We must take the time to study and learn how God wants us to handle the disciplining of kids. Godly discipline is almost never a spontaneous reaction like slapping but a planned and patient response.

    This probably doesnt answer Josh’s question which I have forgotten by now, but hopefully something I said made sense. Also I take no responsibility for grammar errors or any misspelled words. Its 1:00 in the morning.

  3. Andrea Wandell permalink
    August 22, 2008 8:26 am

    In that particular instance, I think it would’ve been best for the teacher to follow the rules at the school regarding disciple, but in our own circumstances as parents, we’re commanded to discipline and teach our children. When we worked at a children’s home, it seemed most of those children were pleading for boundaries, for loving discipline and instruction. I am still learning this, but the most important thing I can do as I discipline and instruct is the “follow through” with my child, encouraging repentance and providing renewed relationship and forgiveness. If I simply spank or simply do “time outs” (and we’re still figuring out what’s best because each child is responding differently) without the “follow through”, then I’m not fully training up a child in the way he should go.

  4. Cindy permalink
    August 22, 2008 9:03 am

    I think somebody ought to call “NANNY 911”!!!!!!!
    Just kidding, couldn’t resist!

  5. Cindy permalink
    August 22, 2008 9:07 am

    Additionally, it truly is a difficult situation, I can’t imagine how hard it is these days, teaching in public schools. Many students are very disrespectful and aren’t taught this at home. Also, not all teachers really teach for the right reasons. It’s just sad and a huge problem. They all need our prayers.

  6. Kathy permalink
    August 22, 2008 10:30 am

    Forgot the child, slap the parents! (In christian love, of course!!)

  7. Mary Bea permalink
    August 22, 2008 10:37 am

    I think Andrea hit on something…I think children not just need…but WANT boundaries…the school system today has taken them away and given children the freedom to do “whatever” because “whatever” is OK…so black & white doesn’t exist anymore…everything is grey…there is no right or wrong…the kids are just expressing themselves…this particular child was checking the boundaries…and found out how far he could go…and that he in fact can go pretty far…and that he the child is actually in control. True, the teacher probably lost his temper…(but I’m quite sure this wasn’t the first time this teacher and student had a problem with each other). and true, he shoudn’t have slapped him…but what would have happened if he spanked him…or gave him detention…wouldn’t the “injustice” be the same…”I got detention for having a dirty desk…for expressing myself…for just saying what I feel” “It’s not fair, why is it wrong for me to say what I’m feeling?” “why is is wrong for me to have my desk the way I like it?” I think the in today’s world the school system would still back the student…and not make the child show respect to his authority figure…no matter what choice the teacher made as discipline…so what kind of person will this child become when he is an adult in the working world? If there are no boundaries now, if teachers are forced to show more respect to students but students are not in turn forced to respect their teachers…where does that end? I read an article recently about The Dark Knight…which said…If Darwin was right…what did the Joker do that was wrong? If we blur the lines of right and wrong…following the law or making up your own…things will only get worse…As a student I was at times forced into showing respect for teachers that I didn’t like, or thought didn’t deserve respect…but I know that I am a better person for having been forced to do that…that teacher may not have ever changed…but it changed my character for sure…and now….I’m stepping down off the soapbox….

  8. howertonjosh permalink
    August 22, 2008 11:41 am

    Wow. Now THAT’S a soapbox, Mary Bea!

  9. Susan permalink
    August 22, 2008 12:36 pm

    AMEN, Mary Bea!! Preach it girl!

  10. Julie Howerton permalink
    August 22, 2008 1:44 pm

    While the teacher should have shown more restraint and disciplined in a different manner, had this happened to one of my own children if they did indeed cuss at the teacher, I would have supported the teacher’s response and hoped they learned a lesson.

  11. howertonjosh permalink
    August 22, 2008 1:58 pm

    There you have it: my mother supports slapping me. (kidding!)

  12. Mary Bea permalink
    August 23, 2008 1:50 am

    I might have a few opinions about education in today’s world…some might call that ranting…I might be one to call it that…forgive my ranting…perhaps the 2 cups of coffee this morning was a bit much before reading the blog…

  13. Ben Lawson permalink
    August 24, 2008 12:18 am

    I think that our response to this should be one that examines how we raise our children. Well… at least, that is what it has done for me. What would it look like if I raised my children in “Grace and Truth?”

    For so much of my life I was focused on trying to earn the forgiveness that God had already given me. Now before anyone reading this gets the impression that I am trying to blame my difficulty on grasping grace on my parents, nothing could be further from the truth. Rather this is more of a, “snap shot” of my personal struggles as a parent.

    In light of this life long struggle I want to make sure that I foster a home where my children have a healthy dose of both grace and truth, as I discipline them. By that I mean that not only do I want my children to know the truth, I also want them to know grace. I believe that as a parent I have a responsibility to teach my children the truth of scripture as I deal with the sinful behavior they exhibit. However, I also want them to learn what it means to deserve punishment yet receive grace.

    I believe every believer needs to embrace the reality of their sinfulness. If they don’t then they can never expect to truly be the effective evangelist God has called them to be. I saw in my own life a huge serge in desire to minister to others when I came, by God’s grace, to the point where I was humbled through a divorce and brought face to face with how sinful I was and am. Through that encounter I was finally able to experience the freedom that comes only through giving complete control over to Christ. This surrender couldn’t take place in my life until I admitted that I had been beaten by sin and that I was never going to be able to render myself worthy of God’s grace.

    With all that being said I as a parent have the responsibility to not only shed light on my children’s unacceptable behavior and contrast that behavior with the truth of scripture, but on occasion as God leads, I feel it equally important to show my children grace, especially when they realize that they deserve punishment. Yes, I do mean that when my children fall into sin that I will carefully chose moments to not dole out punishment when punishments are deserved.

    I truly believe that if I can employ this methodology through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, then when the Lord shows up and is ready to bring my child to the place that took me so long to get too, my hope is that my children will have such a healthy understanding of their humanity through there understanding of the role of both grace and truth in their lives that they will naturally follow the Lord wherever he leads because they already recognize grace and truth when they see it.

    I fully believe that we can teach our children to be respectful to those in authority over them. Yet the essence of respect in its purest form recognizes that one person is no better than the other. I feel that the child that learns the lessons of grace and truth taught to them by their parents that are displaying those attributes in their discipline will produce a child that won’t find themselves on the business end of a slap to the face.

  14. howertonjosh permalink
    August 24, 2008 4:28 pm

    Wow. Good words about grace, Ben.

  15. August 25, 2008 7:10 pm

    The Bible has many supporting verses in regard to discipline and child rearing. However, a teacher striking an 11 year old child was not the only option available here.

    What would Jesus do? Strike or Teach?

    Moses made the same mistake of “striking the rock” in anger when God asked him to speak to the rock, thus not representing God properly to the people. This caused Moses not enter into the promise land.

    Teachers have a responsibility to represent the school, the district themselves and their calling in a professional manner. As much as the comment might cause anyone to want to lash out, we have a greater accountability for our actions…..

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