Society is supposed to nurture, protect and guide children, but sometimes good intentions (we hope!) lead officials to do really stupid things. Earlier this week at a Salt Lake City school, about 40 children went through the lunch line only to have officials throw away their lunches because the kids were not up-to-date on their lunch charges. Then, since they couldn’t turn kids away with no food at all, the not-so-bright officials gave them milk and fruit. Yes, they actually used up MORE food than if the kids had kept their original lunches.
First impression – outrageous and ridiculous! To humiliate kids in front of their friends and classmates in addition to throwing away perfectly good food is totally unacceptable. It makes no sense! If this were an isolated incident, we could say, “Oh, it’s just some insensitive, over-zealous nutcase at that particular school.” Unfortunately, it isn’t an isolated incident.
In California, kids were made to wear “Lunch Money, Please” stickers if their lunch accounts were behind, and in Colorado, a principal was fired when she objected to the policy of stamping kids’ hands when they got behind on their lunch payments. Nothing like a little humiliation to keep those cafeteria coffers full.
The problem extends beyond school cafeterias. Stories of children’s lemonade stands being shut down are almost commonplace in the news nowadays. We certainly can’t have children trying to live the American dream!
And it branches out to other endeavors as well. Just yesterday, Victory Girls’ own Ruthie wrote about eleven-year old Chloe who decided to start earning money by selling cupcakes so she could buy a car when she turned 16. The health department found out and shut her down.
Recently, I wrote about kids who have innocently nibbled bread into what some whacko school official thought looked like the shape of a gun, or drew pictures of a favorite Halloween costume that happened to include a ninja carrying a gun, or used a Hello Kitty “bubble gun” and were suspended from school for being a “threat” to other students.
These stories are only the tip of the iceberg in the “war on children” that America is waging. And each child that has been shamed, embarrassed, thwarted and hurt by these actions could be your child, my child – any of our children. The negative repercussions of these absurd reactions by adults will stay with the children for the rest of their lives.
The fact is: Kids are kids. They’re not mini-adults. They should not be held to the same rules and regulations as adults. If parents are the ones who are responsible for paying for school lunches, then only the parents should bear any repercussions from un-paid accounts. And yes, some adults might try to get around health regulations by selling un-regulated lemonade or cupcakes via their kids. How about we go after those few adults rather than crushing the entrepreneurial spirit in all children who try to earn money via lemonade stands or cupcakes? Some children may bring real weapons to school. Let’s deal with those children rather than punish every child who innocently plays “cops and robbers” on the school playground or eats his pastry the wrong way.
Yes, we know that there are health regulations about the sale of food and drink, we know we have to keep our schools safe, and we know that some parents won’t ever pay for their kid’s lunches and others will be habitually late in paying. But is it really necessary to humiliate children when their parents don’t keep their lunch accounts up-to-date? Is it really necessary to interpret in the worst possible way children’s innocent actions? Is it really necessary to stifle kids’ ingenuity and resourcefulness? Aren’t we smart enough to come up with better solutions? Really, people, when is this stupidity going to stop?