Take a walk through American schools these days, and one thing becomes dramatically clear: There’s a lack of respect coming from young people.
Whether it’s frequent fights between unruly students or classrooms so chaotic that dozens of teachers quit at once, many school districts are struggling with disrespectful and disinterested pupils.
You’d think that a boy actually trying to show courtesy to educators would be welcomed. Apparently not, at least if a disturbing incident in North Carolina is any sign.
According to WSFA News, a 10-year-old boy was recently punished by a teacher and verbally threatened with violence. His offense? He said “yes, ma’am” to a female teacher.
Tamarion Wilson attends North East Carolina Preparatory School in Tarboro, North Carolina. When he came home from school this past Tuesday, his mother knew something was wrong and started asking questions.
“I asked him what happened,” explained Teretha Wilson. “He said he got in trouble for saying ‘yes, ma’am.'”
Then the 10-year-old showed his mother a sheet of paper he was forced to write as punishment. “(H)e’d been made to write the word “ma’am,” four times per line on both sides – all because he’d referred to his teacher as such after she’d instructed him not to,” reported WSFA.
More alarmingly, the teacher also told the boy that she would have thrown something at him if her hands were full after he used “ma’am” to address her.
The teacher sent the boy home with a paper to be signed by a parent and returned. His mother did — but also included a second paper on which the young student wrote out the definition for the term “ma’am.”
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, “ma’am” is short for madam, “used without a name as a form of respectful or polite address to a woman.”
As anybody who has spent time in the south knows, saying “sir” and “ma’am” is quite common as a sign of respect and many parents instill this in their children. The young boy’s parents said that’s exactly what they taught their son.
“He had a look on his face of disappointment, shame,” said McArthur Bryant, who is Tamarion’s father.
“At the end of the day, as a father, you feel kind of responsible for that. Knowing that I have been raising him and doing the best that I can, it’s not acceptable,” Bryant said.
Incredibly, school officials acknowledged during a meeting with the parents that the teacher did threaten to throw something at the boy, but claimed she wasn’t serious.
“Following the meeting, Wilson requested her son be moved to a different classroom, which the principal agreed to do,” WSFA News reported.
“In a statement about the handling of the situation, a school official said: ‘This is a personnel matter which has been handled appropriately by the K-7 principal,'” the news outlet continued.
Now, it is possible that there is more to the story. Perhaps the teacher genuinely believed that the student was using the term in a mocking or condescending way, instead of being polite.
In light of other stories, like the case last year where a teacher sued her school because co-workers used the “wrong” gender pronoun, there’s a very good chance this played out exactly as WSFA reported it.
America’s youth could use more respect for adults, not less. There’s no way around it: Punishing a boy for using a common term of courtesy — especially in the south — is simply ridiculous.
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