EQI Home | Punishment

Rules, School, Society

I would say teenagers are more free in Eastern European countries than in the USA or England. The punishment for disobedience and not attending school or classes is less severe here in Eastern Europe, for example. There is usually less control. The parents are not always immediately called if a teenager doesn't go to school. Teenagers can hug each other, they can use their cell phones in the school, etc. The 17 year old I mentioned who tried to kill herself twice also told me that if a teacher tries to take away her cell phone she refuses to give it to them. In the USA and England I suspect such an act of defiance would end up in severe punishment and probable expulsion if repeated. (from caring2.htm)

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A response from a teen

I read your entry from yesterday on the site. I smiled a little about the girl who refused to surrender her cellphone. Here in my country, I refused to take off my earrings. Also surrender my phone. And read silently at silent reading time. I got detention on all three occasions, and sent out of the class. If the teacher let it go, they wouldn't have wasted the class time arguing about a rule that made no logical sense in the first place. I mean, earrings? But it's not about logic. The teacher needed to feel in control of the class. That's what rules are.

Rules, especially in school, are usually implemented for the purpose of asserting authority and control. Those who break the rules are punished, but that's nothing in comparison to what happens to those who question the reason the rule is there in the first place.

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Note - Just after I posted the first version of this I noticed some teenagers gathering at a table in the room next to me. I am now in Sighisoara, Romania and I was staying in the Burg Hostel. The hostel, like many in Europe, contains a pub. I went over to see what the teens were up to. Knowing Europe, I suspected they were on break from classes, and this turned out to be true. Several of them were smoking and two of their friends, who aren't students, were having a beer. Then we talked a bit about all of this and about what happens if they are caught smoking in the school bathrooms. One girl said, "We are allowed to smoke outiside in the school yard but we are not supposed to smoke in the bathrooms. Sometimes in winter we do though because it is cold outside." Everyone laughed and smiled, including me.

Seeing these relatively happy students with their freinds enjoying a few minutes of freedom, socializing like what I would call normal teens, makes me think it is very unlikely they will one day walk into the school with a gun and kill their classmates.

S.Hein
Sighisoara, Romania