Mere days removed from the deaths of 27 people in Newtown, teachers in the Toronto, Durham and Peel Region (and 6 other) district school boards wore black arm bands in mourning of those who died. They also held a minute of silence for those lost at 9 am in remembrance. Despite the good intentions of those who wish to pay tribute to those who were lost in such a senseless killing, some parents of students have stood up and lambasted those teachers for doing so.
Parents like Karen Majerly feel it is inappropriate for the teachers to be doing so. The reason why the parents think reason for thinking its wrong are as follows:
“It’s a parent’s job to choose whether their child would ever hear about this story,” she said. “I could just picture my son asking, ‘What’s that? Why are you wearing that?'”
The argument is simply fallacious, the parent has no ability to control all of what their children see and hear. They will lean of this event, through the too much television they watch to friends talking about it at school. Even trying to keep news this big from them is simply a ridiculous undertaking. The far more sensible solution to children having knowledge of it is to sit them down and talk to them about it. Educate them in what happened rather than letting them speculate about with their friends. Directly address their concerns and give them proper information. This is not much different than sexual education in that regard. A lack of knowledge is dangerous and allows for their inexperienced minds to create all kinds of unrealistic ideas about it.
The real reason why I think the parents and media are making a stink about this is because of the day when they held the minute of silence and wore the armbands. The same day they were holding a one day strike against the Provincial government. The real accusation (which some have been forward enough to come right out and say) is that the teachers are trying to politicize the deaths. Which I think is a very low blow to attack the teacher’s union on. It could be seen as them who is politicizing the deaths in order to slander the union. The media does have an entire history of doing so.
To better illustrate this, the media has claimed that the union has ordered teachers to wear them, making them mandatory. This isn’t true, the union has publicly said that it was encouraged, not mandatory. In fact the teachers themselves have taken to the ETFO Facebook page to question whether or not they should be wearing them, expressing their own opposing opinion on the subject. You could hardly claim it was forced on them.
The teachers and other educational professionals want to acknowledge and mourn the loss of their comrades in their field. There is nothing wrong with this, it’s a common practise in many fields. I think it’s important to let people know what has happened will be remembered and that those who suffered in that tragedy will not be forgotten. The teachers have a right to display their sympathy for the victims, especially for their own kind.
If you think you have the right to determine what news your child hears, then yes they are correct. If they think they have any ability to control what news they hear, they are completely wrong. News is news, it’s out there for the public to consume. There is no way to control what people say about events going on. Particularly when it involves something as shocking as a killing of 27 people, mostly children. The whole of (at least) North America is going to be talking about it and those parents have no ability or right to regulate those conversations.
The world can be a terrifying and dangerous place. This fact remains true whether or not you allow your child to know about it. I understand that parents want to keep their children from hearing about such incidents, but doing so doesn’t prevent the world from talking about it. Especially if it took place in a school. Simply trying to keep knowledge of events from your children doesn’t alter the material reality of their existence, the threat still remains real.
The teachers in the end have a right to salute or show respect for those who have died in their field. I’d like to see one of these parents try to shut down remembrance of the Holocaust because the spectre of Nazi Germany is much scarier.
Source for quote, Toronto Star article: