“Lord of The Flies”: In Our Schools!

Dear Reader,

Yesterday’s shooting rampage of a grade school has left me numb and, at times, on the edge of tears. I will address this issue at some time in the future. For today I will post something that I was working on the day before this unthinkable tragedy. That post is more generally related to the kind of crazy and horrific behaviors we are witnessing accross America at an increasing rate. 

This blog must not be construed to reflect negatively upon the children and teachers at the site of this tragic shooting. Rather, it is a general commentary on conditions at many of America’s schools and the stressful demands  facing many of this Nation’s fine teachers.


“Lord of The Flies” In Our Schools!

Perhaps you have read “Lord of The Flies”. Or, Maybe you have heard this classic book described by others. You may wish to refresh your memory: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lord_of_the_Flies

It is a story about children that become isolated on a deserted island. At first they play and enjoy their new freedom from adult supervision and appropriate limits to their behavior.  But, as the days pass,  predictable changes in the children’s behavior begins to emerge.

The strong begin to dominate the weak. Emotionally immature selfish and brutal behaviors occur with increasing frequency and intensity. Finally, among the children, behavioral chaos and barbarism prevail.

As a practicing psychologist, I have treated many teachers who are stressed to the point of depression, anxiety and physical illness by the children who they have done their best to help socialize and educate.

The teachers speak of newly mandated constant assessments of student progress, frequently revised new teaching goals and plans, and more reassessments and new goals and plans. All of this, in the face of students who do not and will not learn because they are hostile to their teachers and actively fight against learning. The teachers tell me they are negatively evaluated when they cannot make students stay awake, stay in their seats, stop fighting, or when they send such children out of their rooms in order to teach those who want to learn. Imagine yourself in such a no-win situation, with no end in sight. 

One teacher stated that she was told by students, “you can’t kick us out, you need us to keep your school open”.  Another, reported that she was called a “F…in Bitch”, told “you ain’t nothin”, “You can’t make me do anything”, “you can’t touch me”, etc.

I am told by numerous teachers that they cannot control many of their children and, as a result, they can lose control of their entire classrooms.

Angry, pathologically oppositional students have learned in their dysfunctional homes and shattered families that they can report parents, care-takers and teachers to the police and the Department of Family and Children. They can do this to punish those who they do not like, to intimidate those who dare to set limits upon them, and to catalyze a process which paralyzes institutions and adults with fear at the thought of confronting out-of-control children.

Teachers are now told they cannot touch children, they cannot even touch a child to wake them up. They must tap their desk. The institutional fear is palpable and the barbarian students feed off of it.

Police must now be assigned to many of our schools and even they suffer assaults at the hands of such students.  When they must act to protect themselves or others from attack…they are sued  and their reputations are damaged for “over-reacting” with personal force or with pepper spray or stun-guns: Independent of the truth of the matter.

Of course, there are bad schools and bad teachers. The same can be said of other professions and institutions. But, the teachers that I have worked with, who have told me of these impossible conditions, were very good people and professionals and they were at their wits ends.

If you will  interview some of the school teachers you know, you may discover that schools near you are being destroyed because hostile and disruptive intellectually impaired and emotionally disturbed children. Many of these children are being “mainstreamed” and retained in normal classrooms because of ridiculous governmental mandates. Such decisions should be carefully made on an individual by individual basis, and when a student is beyond help and is destructive to the educational process for the many, the child must be swiftly removed and placed in a specialized teaching environment along with a strong behavior modification program.

The result of the status-quo is chaos and barbarism among our children and the contagion of various psychological health issues among our precious innocent children and our very good teachers.

All of this is just one more reflection of decades of failing liberal/permissive cultural designs in America.

V. Thomas Mawhinney, Ph.D.

Health Services Provider in Psychology

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4 Responses to ““Lord of The Flies”: In Our Schools!”

  1. Gonzo Says:

    Thank you for your thoughtful reply Tom.
    But one does not have to concern themselves with finding studies about SSRI’s, as the warning labels that come with the drugs list psychosis, violent tendencies, and a whole shopping list of other known side effects. However, if one were so inclined, it would not take much effort to find information on the web about the dangers of SSRI’s.

    Additionally, there have been several court cases in which drug companies have been found culpable when a patient has murdered someone. I believe that has led to the truth being presented on warning labels.

    Oddly, it is much more difficult to find information about how many times someone has engaged in violence exactly 3 days after a dosage increase of an SSRI, even though it is frequently the case, but not necessarily the case, or even most often the case.

    I have no doubt that these meds have helped people, and that the majority of cases do not end in catastrophe. However, that does not preclude thoughtful consideration about their dangers when we discuss tragedies such as the one in Newtown. It should also give doctors a bit more pause when these drugs are prescribed for questionable issues. For example, I know someone who started getting a lot of colds and flues when their child started day care. That person went to the doctors to seek immune system help, and was prescribed antidepressants. I find such lax criteria for its use downright appalling. Perhaps doctors have simply not taken a moment to read the warning labels.

    But Tom, what I find most appalling, is that all of the potential side effects are not discussed with patients before they start to take them. In my opinion, given the potential nature of these drugs, people should know what they are getting in to and what to look out for before they suddenly find themselves in the middle of a nightmare. People should be warned of symptoms and be given direction of what to do should certain issues start to arise.

    I beg your forgiveness Tom, but those who prescribe such drugs should know more about them and take more precautionary steps in their patients treatments.



    • vtmawhinney Says:


      You have said nothing that I can take issue with..no forgiveness needed. But maybe we forgive each other anyway. To be fair, we both must have done something wrong recently!

      As a culture, we do turn to medication for various problems too soon. Rather than learn to discipline our children or combate depression and anxiety in natural ways, etc., we give our children or ourselves pills. Many do not like to do the work, or take the responsibilituy and they think medication is a quick and easy fix. Medications have side-effects and they should always be a concern.

      Medical doctors should discuss the side effects to look-out for. Of course it is now very easy to look-up side-effecs for medications on the internet. What is often found is that there are a great many side-effects listed for any one medication and they are often many of the same ones for various different medications. All in all, it can be quite mind-boggling. Perhaps this is an artifact of our legal system.

      Whatever the case, the rule of thumb should always be: Fix it without medication if it is possible.

      One other point, and I am certainly not defending irresponsible medicating. One of the symptoms of depression is various health problems. This is because chronic depression can weaken the immune system. The M.D. that gave the lady an anti-depressant for frequent colds may have discovered she suffered from chronic depression. Even then, I think she should have been referred to a psychologist for assessment and therapy…either first, before meds, or if it was a serious depression, as an important adjunct to treating the depression and educating the lady about natural coping methods.

      Thanks, Gonzo, for your thoughts and the discussion.



  2. Gonzo Says:

    I’ve been a critic of SSRI antidepressent drugs for a long time.
    It is a little known fact that SSRI’s have been linked to a very large number of suicides and homicides, including thousands of instances in schools – the onzie twozie murders just dont get the same kind of media coverage.

    And now, this medical doctor dares to inform the public why.

    Do yourselves a favor and research fluoride in meds and the effects of fluoride on the human body/brain.


    • vtmawhinney Says:

      Thanks for posting your concerns, Gonzo.

      I too have wondered and worried about the effects of the many drugs (therapeutic and recreational) that millions in America are taking. I must tell you that I feel unable to really know these effects, as the research literature is so often inconclusive. Also, the historical information available about populations over long periods of time that have used these modern drugs is unavailable.

      I am further vexed by the fact that as a practicing psychologist, I have recommended medication treatment for individuals suffering the very damaging effects of Bi-Polar, Schizophrenia, Depression, Anxiety and ADHD and have seen very good outcomes. In my 33 years of practice I have seen very few outcomes that were worse than the symptoms that were treated. I have yet to see a homocide or suicide that would be attributable to the medications prescribed for my clients, God forbid.

      So, I do not argue with your concern. I share it and I do not recommend medication unless nothing else is working..or in the case of a few mental disorder, will else will work.

      VTM, 12/20/12


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