The fracas involving the teenage girl, her mom, the guard at Queens College is unnecessary in my humble opinion. It is indicative of everything that is wrong with us individually and collectively. We need to understand basic principles of dignity and decency in our private and public conduct. Every school should have a code of conduct in which acceptable conduct is clearly spelt. Parents and their wards should be made to sign to complete the admission process. When there are violations, minor infractions should earn demerits and five demerits should earn a suspension. Major violations can earn outright suspension or expulsion. That is how civilized people behave. What happened is demeaning to the school, the parent and the girl. The mother did not act right but there must be a way, a process to handle issues like this. As a society, we must eschew violence and mob action. The guard does not have the competency and must not be invested with the power to order a girl home or force her to obey school rules. He may report, but he does not have the skill to handle such.
That said, we all should understand adolescent psychology and the responsibilities of being a parent. The season of transition from childhood to adulthood can be very tumultuous. Adolescence is a time of great change for teens, their parents and anyone involved in their lives. This is when they develop their own identity and independence. This transition, is when they face the pressure to be responsible, trustworthy and a time they struggle with relationships, peers, sexuality, drug use, and parents. Within 5-6 years, they undergo rapid developmental changes in physical, social, moral, cognitive, and emotional domains. To become responsible adults, parents need to be good examples to their children and they must offer them support in navigating this phase and help them cope with rapid changes. The girl in question used faked eyelashes which is unacceptable in her school. If she had read and signed documents on acceptable behavior, she may have acted differently. It is also not impossible that she was trying to test the limits, in that case, the school authority should have disciplined her instead of allowing that public degeneration that has now become a spectacle on social media.
The attitude of the girl’s mother was not good but she may have responded that way because of the shaming tactics deployed. Holding on to the collar of the guard’s shirt is unjustifiable. She should have taken her protest to the principal, if at all. We must understand how to resolve such conflicts in a dignified manner. Junior staffers can sometimes be rude and condescending. Engaging with them can only make things worse. As parents, we owe it to our children to train them to obey laid down rules. Every association have their own rules, processes and procedures. You have no business associating with them, if you cannot conform and obey the rules.
Once more, it is hard to parent adolescents to responsible adults. As parents and educators, we must understand; a teenager’s mind works differently than that of a child and that of an adult. They are often impulsive, they can misunderstand emotions and social cues and they are prone to taking grave risks or making dangerous choices. They need our guidance, conduct by example and support.
I hope Queens College will learn from this. The school is always in the news for the wrong reasons. No one is a winner in what happened. No one!