This is the scenario:
At a local school a child was badly hit in the head by another child wielding a stick. The child didn’t need stitches, but he did have a cut and some bruising. There were calls from parents to ban the carrying and playing with sticks.
It’s a familiar story played out in schools all over the world.
Ban or collaborate?
However, the very clever school principal decided to take a different approach. She addressed the whole school and talked about the options.
She told the students that the safety of everyone in the school was up to them. She said that she could ban playing with sticks. She told the students that this would mean that those children who played well would be punished for something another child did. She asked the children if they thought this was fair. The answer was a resounding NO!
Justice is served from the students themselves
She then told them that she was willing to allow playing with sticks if the children could promise that they would be careful. Every child at the school agreed with this, and teachers reported in the weeks that followed students admonishing other students for being careless with sticks declaring that playing with sticks was a privilege not a right, and they would have to be more careful.
This is a wonderful example of well-informed children acting on their own sense of justice for the good of everyone, not just themselves.
It is also a good reminder that if we give children the tools to fix issues, they are more than capable of understanding how to do it fairly and with compassion.