Are we really raising a generation of entitled brats?

A few days ago a South Carolina officer was captured on video yanking a 16 – year old female student from her desk in a classroom, slamming her to the floor and then dragging her to the front of the classroom where she was then arrested.

Her crime – she was being disruptive in class, by using her cell phone to text message.

More specifically, her teacher and a second administrator attempted to discipline her before calling the school resource officer.

Since then the police officer, Ben Fields has been fired from his position.

I have been seeing a post by Christy Lee Parker on facebook and other social media sites being re-posted, shared, liked and supported. Her stance on this incident is firm and simplistic, in which she states the following:

“We are raising a generation of entitled brats who think they are above all authority and the law. What are we teaching “children” and young adults when a 17- or 18-year-old can disrupt a class, ignore 3 adult authority figures, and STRIKE an officer, and the officer gets fired for handling the situation?”

“If you are applauding the termination of Officer Fields and defending that brat, go ahead and pat yourself on the back. It’s this mindset that’s breeding disrespectful punks and causing them to get shot. Stop making kids think they are above the law and authority. You’re not doing them or society any favors.”

“There are THREE videos. Watch them in slow motion. If you’ve never had to attempt to restrain or remove someone who is resisting and flailing violently, then you really shouldn’t weigh in. The “violent throw” was caused by her own momentum as she bucked against the officer. I don’t care how big or tough he is, he couldn’t have “thrown” her in such a way by his own power with where his hands were. She bucked, straightened her body, lost balance, tumbling HERSELF backwards.”

Here are my concerns, with this blog.

Firstly I want to provide additional context for this incident, so we can have a better understanding of the situation. After, reading up on the story, the young girl and the officer here is what I have found. The young girl who was yanked and body slammed by this officer, was recently orphaned as her mother had just died and she was now living in a foster home. More specifically, this young girl, who was ‘disruptive’ in class, was not being loud, or talking to other students, however she was texting on her phone. Now before, anyone jumps in here and says she should not have been on her phone. I 100% agree with you, in fact I don’t think cell phones even belong in classrooms, let alone in schools. But that is another debate all together.

In addition, the school is centered in a lower socio-economic area, with over 27% of the students eligible for school lunches due to low-income. Student population is 59% black, 26% white and 15% other. The fear of drugs, gangs and the columbine shooting is what had sparked the initiation of the school resource officer program. In terms of state numbers of the use of law enforcement within the state, Spring Valley High school was slightly below than national average. However, the state’s numbers did reveal patterns of disproportionate referrals of black students.

Whether, this specific incident was an issue of race is uncertain. The research I have found is mixed, thus I will not comment on this specific issue. With that said, I believe the U.S.A. in terms of statistics and the cases we have seen throughout history illustrates there is an issue with race and police.

My concern here is not the fact that the student was black or female, but that she was a child. More specifically, she came from a marginalized background and was recently orphaned. To put it in simple terms, this child was failed by the system. The system failed her from the moment she walked into school that day and perhaps the days before. Perhaps, someone should have paid more attention to this grieving child, whether that was someone at the school, a relative or even the state. However, let’s say for arguments sake, she was receiving adequate attention and care for her loss. Let’s remind ourselves of what it is like to be a sixteen year old. When I was in high-school no one had cell phones, mainly pagers, but I do remember getting that ‘911 emergency’ page, and no it wasn’t the police. I also do remember how important it was to figure out how I could respond to this ‘so-called emergency’ page quickly. Better yet, I’m sure many of us have used our cell phone (secretly) when we shouldn’t have, or maybe that’s just me. However, I do not believe that warrants anyone being yanked out of a desk, body slammed and then dragged to the front of a room. This officer clearly had lost control and it is simple as that.

Perhaps, he too was having a bad and took it out on this student. We all have had bad days and sometimes do things that are out of character, but that is where accountability comes in. If you want to hold the youth of today responsible for their actions, then us adults must be held accountable for our actions as well. This officer deserves to be held accountable for his behavior, as he is the responsible adult and should be held to higher standards. Whether, he should be fired is up for debate. In addition, I will point out, some of these so-called ‘generation of ‘self-entitled’ brats,’ have started to protest the firing of Officer Ben Fields. So perhaps, they are not as ‘self-entitled’ as Christy thinks. A student by the name of John Cassibry, who was part of the protest against the firing of Officer Fields, stated the following to the The Huffington Post “that while he did not agree with Fields’ conduct in arresting the student, he also did not believe the officer deserved to be fired.”

I’m the first to support law enforcement officials as they are the first responders to protect us. However, I do not think it is right to support unacceptable behavior. The reason is simple, the moment you accept the misbehavior of an officer, then you disrespect all those officers who work ethically and for the greater good of the community. I am also careful not to paint all officers with the same brush. Contrarily to Christy Lee Parker who has painted all of today’s youth as ‘entitled brats.’

As for Christy’s argument “The “violent throw” was caused by her own momentum as she bucked against the officer. She bucked, straightened her body, lost balance, tumbling HERSELF backwards” lacks logic. Unless Christy is a forensic analysis, which from her website it states she is an internet journalist, business owner and worked in health care for several years, I would take her argument with a grain of salt. Whether, this child ‘bucked’ against the officer or not, his actions from the minute he put his hands on her were wrong. This young girl was clearly lacking something, perhaps she was missing her mom or her home at that moment, or perhaps she wasn’t. But in this case the action should have been simply to wait until the end of class and have a discussion with her. She was not actually disrupting the class vocally or physically. In fact, I don’t think the police should have been involved in this situation in the first place. This was a complete waste of police resources; this should have been handled by the teacher. Take the cell phone away; did not anyone consider that as an option? The point is the teacher and administrator should have been able to de-escalate the situation without having to call the school police officer. Alternatively, the bigger picture would be to perhaps ban cell phones in class rooms’ period.

My point is, for those of you who are you sharing and supporting Christy Lee Parker’s blog, think about the bigger picture. If we want the youth of today to be independent, strong leaders then we need to provide them with examples of strong leaders and we need to provide them with the tools to be leaders. We especially need to teach them accountability, and that is not done only through disciplining them but ourselves as well. Above all else, give our youth more credit; they are a lot smarter than we think.

Sunny Mangat

Twitter @mangat_sunny

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