Written by Alden Roosevelt age 12
I live on a quaint street in the West Village, and I’m going to tell you something that changed my life… On a summer day like any other in the redwood forest of Big Sur, where I go during most summer breaks, my mother was reading me one of my favorite authors, Roald Dahl. We like to take turns reading to each other out loud and doing funny character voices. I was eight. There was no worry of fire this year. A couple of years before, during the Sobranes fire, we’d evacuated and moved around carrying a favorite painting, a chair and books from place to place. Finally at the end of the summer we settled back into our cozy cabin. Part of our land was burned along the mountainside, but it was not long before little sprouts of green life sprang up everywhere.
The Roald Dahl book we were reading was his autobiography, Boy Tales of Childhood, and it was different than his usual stories. I love the way he pokes fun at mean-spirited adults, teachers, family members, and authority figures who abuse their power, all those who fail to see the magic in kids. I’d always wondered where he’d come up with all his fantastical ideas. As my mother read, we got to a very uncomfortable place in the book where he is “caned” at a boarding school in England. The headmaster beats him on his bare bottom, while other classmates watch in horror. I asked my mother, “Does this still happen to kids?” She thought it was just the time period in the 1920’s and also in strict boarding schools in England.
We live off-grid in the forest in the summer. That means no computers, phones or WIFI, so we had to wait two days before our weekly town trip to find out. Two days later we googled it and we were shocked to discover that 19 states in the USA still allow children to be beaten as a measure of discipline, in some states like Georgia almost 60% of the schools practice it. These are public schools that are paid for by your tax dollars!
The feelings I felt for other kids being hurt and harmed never faded after that summer. When you think of bullies in school, you think of other children bullying you, not teachers, but teachers can be bullies too. I plan to make it my business to go to each of those states and bring awareness and change those old laws to help other kids.
While on this journey it has come to my attention that some people believe that this law is good. They feel some older children will abuse the teacher. I understand this, and while I still want to change this law, the teachers can be protected with self-defense laws, while not abusing their power. What I’m fighting is the fact that a teacher can hit a child, for so little as having their shirt untucked, or getting a math problem wrong, or asking a question. Many of the children who are affected by this law are handicapped. Due to lack of patience, proper education, and funding those caring for them resort to violence when frustrated. I’d like to rent a bus and travel to these states to confront these governors face-to-face. I’m going to make it my business to change this law.
I’ll start by letting anyone who is still reading this know that the States in question are: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North & South Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Wyoming.
Not everybody who gets abused can turn it into funny stories like Roald Dahl.
If you happen to be the Governor, or know the Governor of one of these states, let’s talk. If you have any ideas, or stories for me that could bring this matter to light, please contact me. Thank you for taking the time to read my story and have a great week.
You can contact me at: Altruistworksinprogress@gmail.com