Gut Check: Making simple sense out of life
By Lenore Skomal Erie Times-News staff blogger
Lenore Skomal is an award-winning author and veteran journalist in all forms of media. She is a weekly columnist and daily blogger for the Erie Times-News. She’s authored 17 published books, including an anthology of her columns, Burnt Toast available on her website   Read more about this blog.
Posted: November 30th, 2012
“Controversial” discipline to curb student violence in school backfires

I use the quotation marks on the headline to indicate my tongue-in-cheek use of the word controversial. The incident I am speaking of didn’t happen here; it happened at a high school in Mesa, Arizona, where two students were punished for fighting by being forced to hold hands in a public in the school. Now, that benign form of alternative punishment, which both boys agreed to in lieu of something worse like suspension, is being criticized and called “inappropriate” and “encouraging bullying.”

Why? Well, the public display of two boys holding hands has prompted discriminatory comments from fellow students about the boys being gay. In addition to that, many are complaining that it sends the wrong message about two men holding hands, portraying the act as being embarrassing rather than acceptable. (This of course is a cultural difference between America and other countries, where men holding hands is considered completely normal, regardless of sexual orientation. It’s common in the Arab world, Africa and some parts of Asia, like Korea.)

So…is the problem the form of punishment or the response to it?

Rather than backing the teacher up, the school administration is distancing itself from the practice, saying in a written statement that it does not condone this form of punishment and will investigate.

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