As I am sure in many families, when everyone gets together for the holidays, topics of discussion can range from the most mundane to heated debates. My family is no different. We started a discussion about some high school students who were “kicked off” their various extra curricular activities because of behavior their school deemed “inappropriate”. Short story, they got drunk at a party and got caught.
I do not think teenagers need to drink and get drunk. If you are a patent, it is up to you to have those discussions with your child(ren). My surprise was how the school chose to handle it. As we discussed more, I learned many schools take this stand and I think patents need to step in and be more of an advocate for their child and stop letting this happen.
It all stems from the fact that many students are required to sign a “code of conduct” in order to participate in the extra curricular activity of their choice. Allegedly, the students were reported drinking by another student and many of them were removed from their sports and academic events. Because some of them were seniors, not only does it affect their last year of high school but could also affect their chances at scholarships, college choices, etc. I found this to be a very harsh punishment for a mistake. I went and researched other school’s published Code of Conducts and saw many of them clearly had their punishments laid out for first offense, second offense, and third offense. None of them went right to removal of the student from the activity. When I went to review the code of conduct for the school we were discussing, I found it interesting that the page had been removed!
Since I cannot comment on their particular code of conduct, I want to share some of my thoughts regarding a Code of Conduct and the punishments behind them.
I understand playing a sport or doing an extra curricular activity is a privilege and not a right. I understand schools have to right to set some expectations for those representing their schools. My concern is when the expectation is greater for a minor than it is for adults. Some of the CofC I read expected the kids to be perfect. I wonder, how many of those adults responsible for WRITING the CofC would have been guilty of not following it when they were teenagers?
Another concern is the zero tolerance for making a mistake? You go to a party. You drink. One person finds out, reports it, and you’re off the team? Off Student Council? Is that really fair? It was not a school event. It was just teenagers being dumb.
One CofC I read said you could not be loitering anywhere where alcohol or drugs were present. I think back to my high school days. My sister (college aged) would have a party when my parents were out of town. I would be home and at those parties sometimes. There was alcohol. According to these CofC, if a picture circulated with me there or someone reported it, I would be in trouble. There doesn’t seem to be a gray area.
Another question I have is; how are these even legal? How can they be upheld. If an adult can not go into a legal, binding, contract with a minor, how can a school? I understand parents have to sign as well, but, in reality, there is no consequence for the parent, other than their son or daughter no longer being on the team.
I understand there should be expectations and consequences for actions. I can see why the schools would have them in place, all I am saying is to take a step back and really look at the expectations and the consequences. Does the punishment fit the crime? Are we, as adults, setting higher expectations for children than we set for ourselves? Are we teaching them there is no room for mistakes?
At the end of the day, there is a reason the laws are different for those under the age of 18. Perhaps some adults need to review those reasons.