Sometimes we are amazed — or perhaps “shocked” would be a more descriptive word — at discovering some bizarre behavior by children that could lead to murder. To give those children, or any children caught up in such situations, the benefit of the doubt as to what led to their cruel and strange behavior, I will offer a few comments.
Is it really a sign of the times that children could ever have such thoughts in their heads… thoughts about doing something that could actually lead to someone’s death “just for the fun of it”? To play the devil’s advocate for a minute to see how we could possibly see those children in a less dark and sinister light, here are a few scenarios
we could explore.
The first possibility might be that they did not have parents (or even a single parent) who paid much attention to their upbringing. They — the parents — may (or may not) have attended to their physical needs, such as clothing them, feeding them, and providing a roof over their heads, but it is possible that they did not attend to their moral
upbringing, not only teaching them right from wrong but the reasons for choosing the right behaviors— which would include how the other person would feel, the possible consequences of their actions, and the very obvious breach of the Ten Commandments.
Secondly, the parents (or those who were in charge of raising the children) could have been what we might call “lazy” or “not-caring-enough” parents. Those parents would look the other way when their children did something wrong or something that could bring trouble upon them, or they would acknowledge the deed in passing, but not in any way to cast any guilt or shame on their own children, allowing them to “get away with murder,” so to speak, making it appear
that either they are not as guilty as they really are, or much worse, that the other person or persons involved are really the guilty ones.
Or, if not lazy or careless, or guilty of poor parenting choices, maybe they were just of the mindset that their children could not do anything that wrong, so they would always make up excuses for their children, or handle whatever the consequences were for them, such as paying fines, giving them inconsequential punishments, or something of that nature. One such mother of one of the three children involved at the Starling K-8 School incident in Columbus, Ohio told one of the interviewers that some teachers at the school don’t appear to care about their students. Now I ask you, how does what she said have anything at all to do with what her child did? She sounds like one of those “Let’s point fingers at the victim for creating a situation in which ‘such things’ happen” parents.
So by now, likely you all know what happened, even though it happened in November of 2018, but just in case you don’t know, the basic story is this: The teacher in question has a severe allergic reaction to bananas, which makes her go into anaphylactic shock and could lead to her death. To protect herself and help her students understand her
condition, in addition to telling them, she hung up a sign declaring her classroom a banana-free zone, as well as telling students to wash their hands if they had eaten or even just touched any bananas. (I can’t say why this is coming up again now, but I missed it the first time around and was truly shocked to learn of this situation when I
saw it online today.)
The shock to me was to realize that three students, aged only 12 and 13, who had her for their art teacher and who knew her well enough to appreciate her, thought it would be some kind of fun to play a prank on her by smearing banana all over her classroom door and doorknob.
And, as if that weren’t enough of a prank, they also threw bananas at her while she sat in her classroom. My first thought, after thinking that it was a cruel and despicable thing for those children to do, was that they might not really have believed that she was so allergic to the fruit. It is possible that they thought she was playing a prank on them by creating a banana-free zone and just wanted to check it out, never thinking for one minute that she might really die from going into anaphylactic shock. Or, they could have thought it would be fun to kill her with bananas, again, not being aware enough or mature enough to know that such an act would have dire consequences.
Since it did happen back in 2018, enough time has gone by for those children to have experienced some of those consequences. But did they?
I would have to imagine that they were all asked to leave the school (none of the articles I read stated that they had been expelled, although some alluded to that as a likelihood), but they are all on probation, which implies if any one of them decides to play any other “pranks” that are in any way harmful to another person, the next level of consequences they might have to face could be the biggest lesson of their lives.
Moral: If parents do their job during the very early years of raising their children, those children would likely never wonder what it might be like to kill their teacher. Yet if any child did decide to do something to hurt their teacher, other children in the class would rise up and stop anything like that from happening. That’s what we would wish for our children — to do the right thing!
Maramis Choufani is the Managing Editor of the Las Vegas Tribune. She writes a weekly column in this newspaper. To contact Maramis, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.