People keep saying to me that schools started going downhill since they took prayer and corporal punishment out of schools. They point to students as young as middle-schoolers bringing alcohol and other illegal things to school. They point to school shootings, and primary school students raping each other. All this because the students don't pray in school and teachers can't smack the kids around.
Every time I hear it, I feel my chest constrict, my mind temporarily blanks but a simple thought of anger and disgust. I begin to imagine how these people were raised, and how they raise their kids. I imagine their kids perpetuating the same thoughts, "When I was a kid, I got my butt whooped, and I turned out alright."
I reflect back to even just a few years ago, when similar thoughts crossed my mind. But in the few short years I've been raising my child, the one thing I have learned, without a shadow of a doubt, is that all a child needs is a firm hand to guide them, not to hit them. A strong voice to lead them, not to yell at them. I've learned more about love and learning from my son, than all my years growing up.
So we know that corporal punishment is bad, and not the way to handle a problem child. When we started looking into it, we discover that there are alternative ways to dealing with wild kids, and these are things that teachers learn.
Prayer in school is not something I've ever had. But whether I was behaving in school or misbehaving (which was most common in those junior high years), it was never because of school itself. It was because of what was happening at home.
A kid wants to be loved. They don't want to be ignored. Sadly, a parent working all the time can leave a kid feeling ignored, especially if that parent doesn't make the time for their child. A child without love will seek it in other places. Myself, being the introvert that I was, found my love in books and videogames. Others that I saw, found it with other kids similar to them. They formed their own social family, and answered only to themselves. They became lawless because they had no foundation for how to behave and act.
It's hard being a parent. You want to do the things you want to do. You want to be lazy. You're tired from work. But if you don't spend time with your kids, you'll alienate them. They'll grieve, and eventually, they'll find their love somewhere else. Even playing videogames with them, reading a book, going outside to play catch, or even just talking to them.
You show them healthy ways to pass the time, you show them how to talk to others, and how to deal with stress. You show them how to be an adult. Prayer in schools doesn't do that.