The other day I was thinking about the naughty things kids used to do just a few decades ago– like, when they got mad at each other, they’d stick out their tongues while “making a face.” Or, if a boy wanted to tease a girl, he’d pull on her pigtail. The victims tattled, and the offenders got disciplined, usually by staying after school for a certain amount of time.
Flash forward to today — and I know this from recently teaching and subbing in elementary schools in three states. When today’s elementary aged kids get mad, they can threaten lives (“I’m going to kill you.”), they say words one would need to watch R rated movies to hear, or they grab the opposite sex in “the privates,” with the boldness to lie about it to the adults who witnessed it, and then threaten to sue the teacher and the district if there is any discipline done. And no one can stay after school because most students are bussed.
I have taken razor blades away from a fifth grader, and broken up many fist fights. One parent tried to run me over with her car after school on the day she found out the principal gave her son a three-day in-school suspension. Her son was one of my students. Another parent yelled at me for several minutes in the hallway, defending her first grade daughter for angrily throwing markers at my back. I know teachers and counselors who will not place their desks near windows for fear of being shot at.
Times are a’changing. No more tongues sticking out nor pigtails getting pulled. Is childhood innocence really a thing of the past? If so, what’s a writer to do?
One could write fantasy, mysteries, or historical fiction. Or best yet, no matter what the genre or age of your reader, write truthfully, and give your readers hope.
Happy, safe writing.