Problems your children face in school

A school boy at his desk.

In past times the school played an important part in the moral development of a child.

But school was then much more than a place of instruction where students filled their heads with facts.

The early American philosopher Jonathan Edwards explained that in his day (the eighteenth century) education meant,

“discipline for life’s duties, discipline to life’s natural moral laws, discipline in the rule of life’s Great Exemplar.”

At that time moral training was viewed as more important than gaining knowledge.

Things are much different today.

Few people now enter school to acquire moral discipline.

There is a totally different atmosphere in today’s schools from that in the schools of years gone by.

How does this affect your children?

What problems do they face in school today?

Apathy Attitude towards study

Students having fun in class unattended by a teacher

One of the problems your child is likely to face in school today is indifference toward study.

In his book School Discipline in an Age of Rebellion, Knute Larson explains that perhaps the most difficult problem that teachers now face is “the problem of just plain turned off’ kids.”

Teacher Bel Kaufman asked:

How do you overcome apathy? . . . These girls are heavy with apathy. I ask them what they would like to do: I offer them choices. They would just as soon sit there till the period is over.” She described the situation in today’s schools as “ominous” and “frightening.”

Why are so many students today indifferent toward their school work?

One reason is that some children take a materialistic view of their education.

They will apply themselves only to subjects that they feel will benefit them materially. Knute Larson observes:

Outside of directly job related learning experiences, many high school students regard the entire academic curriculum as a complete waste of time.”

Other youngsters refuse to study anything.

They have the attitude that ‘the world owes them a living’ and they see no need to acquire skills to care for themselves in later life.

These individuals go to school only because they have to or in order to cause mischief.

One of the sad results of apathy toward school work is that many children do not learn to read well. 

How well does your child read?

How does the atmosphere in his school affect him?

Have you visited his school and spoken with his teachers recently?

More importantly, have you talked with him personally about his experiences at school?

Children benefit when their parents take an interest in what they do.

Erosion of authority in schools

Students protesting on a bus

Until recent years the schools did much to engender respect for authority in young people.

But now many children do not develop such respect.

One educator from observed:

 A formidable youth rebellion has moved down from the colleges into our secondary schools.”

A former assistant principal made the following comparison of his own school days with what goes on in schools today:

I know there was some mischievousness when I was in school too, but it wasn’t on an organized basis to disrupt or disparage or cut down the teacher’s authority or respect as it seems to be now. . . . There’s been a decided depreciation in the attitude of many of the students. . . . Discipline and standards seem to have ceased. . . . [It used to be] when I’d go into a classroom if there was quite a bit of noise, it would quiet down within seconds. I was a symbol of authority. But not any more . . . they have no respect for authority.”

Disrespect for authority exists even in grade school children today.

Because of this, one teacher retired early.

She explained:

The language some of [the smaller children] use is one thing. In some cases it’s just unbelievable.” 

A high school teacher who also retired early said:

They whine a lot, about things like the dress code, and they go around the halls looking like animals, . . . bare feet and all, . . . It’s just depressing.”

Rebellion against authority spreads outside the classroom too.

Young people often look down on the authority of the police and of the government.

One high school boy declared:

Kids view the police as a waste of time. If they want to have a gang fight, the kids feel that the police have no business breaking it up. As to government, many young people feel that they should be their own rulers.” 

Violence in schools

school fight outside of the class

Youngsters have been subjected to a worse influence in this generation than in any previous period of time.

Each day news reports tell of war and of nations accomplishing their aims by aggression and other underhanded means.

Children spend thousands of hours watching television programs that glorify violence, crime and sadism.

The effects of this influence are seen in the conduct of children at school.

The Register of a County reported:

Today the media that speak of mugging, vandalism, robbery at knife point, assault and rape refer, not to the underworld, but to our schools, our children.”

Media reports of shootings and knifing in classrooms and school yards rapes, even “vendetta” attacks upon teachers.

A special report entitled “Vandalism and Violence” declares:

Teaching in a school is twice as dangerous as working in a steel mill . . . [There is a] constant need for disciplining aggressive pupils, which in some schools takes from 50% to 75% of a teacher’s time.”

Many school locker rooms have become deadly arsenals.

A schoolboy says of his classmates: “Practically everyone in the whole school carries guns or knives.”

A high school principal states:

We have gone from finding water guns and bubble gum in lockers to marijuana, ice picks and guns. We are rapidly developing an environment of fear for the student who wants to come to school to learn . . . The few are terrorizing the many.”

Violent behavior at school is not limited to high schools and colleges.

Even the very young face this.

Destructive vandalism regularly confronts schoolchildren today.

The report Vandalism and Violence says:

In the past few years, school vandalism and violence, once the marks of a few destructive ‘bad boys’ and ‘psychotics,’ have taken on the magnitude of a national dilemma.”

In some areas students face pressure to join gangs.

A high school student stated:

If someone looks strong, a gang will ‘draft’ him. First they will ask him to join. Then they will tell him to do so. Whether he agrees to join them or not, they will beat him up.” 

Fear, coupled with the desire to be accepted by fellow students, moves many to do what others demand.

Drugs in school

A teen smoking a cigarette

Another difficulty that your children are likely to face in school is drug abuse.

One report pointed out that 85 percent of senior students had been offered marijuana or other “soft” drugs in high schools.

An undercover narcotics agent who said that she had worked for more than three years in city schools stated:

"In general, school is like a haven for drugs. It’s a big business there.”

She claimed that in some schools 90 percent of the students were using some form of drug.

Even some teachers have been arrested for “pushing” drugs to students.

Some schools have taken steps to combat drug abuse by students.

But the drug problem among youngsters is so widespread that your children are likely to encounter it in some way.

Will they be prepared to resist successfully the temptation to experiment with drugs?

Sexual immorality

Teens behaving badly

The moral climate among today’s young people may present yet another problem for your children to face in school.

Many teachers and students have adopted the so-called “new morality.”

It is common for teenagers to have sexual relations today.

They view it as simply ‘keeping up with the times.’

Overly explicit discussions of sexual matters in schools often turn young minds in a wrong direction.

School discussions of sex are often based upon distorted personal point of views.

One eight-year-old girl came home from such a discussion at school and asked her mother:

“When can I start doing these things?”

Of course, most teachers deplore the excessive immorality practiced so openly today. But others are yet to set a good example on this matter.

Not all schools present the same pressures.

But what about the school your children attend?

Do you know exactly what they face in school in this regard?

As a parent, you should. The best way to find out is to talk with them about it.


Indeed, your children can face serious problems in school today.

Widespread apathy toward school work and disrespect toward authority can adversely affect their thinking.

The crime, violence and general disregard for other people among youths today can have a harmful effect on them too.

Even the course of study may contain subjects that are detrimental.

Can anything be done to counteract these influences?

Please check the post on how parents can help their children succeed through the difficulties they face at school.