Screen Shot 2014-06-04 at 10.16.12 AMMany schools all over America respond the same way when students break the rules. They crack down hard with suspensions or even expulsions. They only ask, “What law was broken?” and “Who did it?” They don’t seek the cause behind it. Many administrators are realizing that this may decrease the violence in school in the short term but that it can also lead to increased violence outside of school and may also cause students to give up on education. Now, some are turning away from this zero tolerance approach and adopting a restorative justice model that encourages offenders to apologize and take responsibility. As described in “Implementing restorative justice: A guide for schools” from the state of Illinois, the practice seeks to, “increase the pro-social skills of those who have harmed others, address underlying factors that lead youth to engage in delinquent behavior, and build on strengths in each young person.”
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I was different. I was the new girl in elementary school, the girl no one wanted to be around, the new girl who wore weird stockings and Old Navy sweaters, back when Old Navy wasn’t cool. I was the girl who had black hair instead of blonde, brown eyes instead of blue. I was different, a social outcast, ostracized by the very society I was to call home. Flash forward. I used to tell people my story and they’d call me strong or brave. They acted like out of bullying comes something beautiful. But my story is not beautiful. Sure, you look at people who used to be bullied and see where they are, they’re so “happy” and “successful.” I get it. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right? But what the people don’t see is the years of pain, the mental damage that comes with it. It is not beautiful.
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I take a look at the world with my juvenile eyes. I see young minds absorbing, These lies, these lives, these rappers are distorting. Put a female in front of a camera, shake that behind and record it. A girl sends you a nude, make sure that you forward it. Hoping for a brighter future but never working towards it. I, too, am a representation of this generation, I’m far from perfect. I’m not trying to parent you with a mother’s wit. I just hate to see my generation deteriorating as a nation, And becoming an abomination. Annihilating its character just to fit this mold. Listening to these lyrics and doing as they’re told. Girls twerking to receive attention. Flaunting the goods ain’t gonna increase your pension. Exercise your right to extend your education, And here I’m left hoping for a re-creation. I, too, am a victim of falling to these temptations, Participating in activities furthering me from my desired destinations.
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Teaching and helping others is a passion of mine. It’s also where I should be. “Old Soul” or “Mama Coco” friends call me. Giving always came easy to me. But these days, I’m starting to realize that the advice I give to others is the advice I should be giving to myself. When some of my friends argue, they feel they have to hold back some of their feelings because they fear the outcome of more disappointment. My advice is to hold nothing back. How can you resolve an issue that hasn’t been fully addressed? And then it hit me. I was going through the same problem with someone. I knew that I had to speak up, but every time I saw this person, I said nothing because I feared the result. I kept all the pain inside. It hurts to know that I had the solution to a problem, but I was too scared to actually solve it, to fight for the relationship to last and get better. Instead of saying something, I sit there. I fear that we will become nothing if I don’t get enough courage to open my mouth and ask, “Why?” I guess it is easier to give advice than to take it.
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Screen Shot 2014-06-04 at 10.24.40 AMI’m not a hero. I don’t have extraordinary physical or mental capabilities, I’m too afraid to leave my house on my own when it’s dark, and I am a girl. I wish the last part was irrelevant. It isn’t. I’ve been into comic books for three years and I am told about my favorite heroes saving small children from harm, and fighting bad guys while still getting home in time for dinner -- and they’re men. I read about their girlfriends, wives, and mothers being injured or harmed for the sake of “character development.” Not awesome. Spoilers below. Gwen Stacy, Peter Parker’s girlfriend, was thrown off a bridge. After an unsuccessful attempt by Spider-Man to save her, she died. The writers came up with this gruesome conclusion because, apparently, Parker was too cool for a long-term, committed relationship. Rebecca Banner, Bruce Banner’s mother, was killed by her alcoholic and abusive husband. This, of course, affected his mental health and increased his internal struggle with his Hulk side. In 2013, the Scarlet Witch and Rogue were both killed -- in the same issue. There isn’t any male character development here; just a great example of terrible writing. All of these deaths were completely unnecessary, violent, and pretty sad. Is this really our only option to keep a story going? Isn’t there a way to keep Gwen alive and in Peter’s life without restraining him? Doesn’t Bruce Banner have enough problems that encourage the Hulk, without his mother dying? Isn’t there more to keeping the attention of readers than shock value? I’m not a hero. I don’t want to be one, and I don’t want to know one. I’m pretty fond of living.
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