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For public school students, education isn't just about reading, writing and arithmetic. Today's students (and their educators) are navigating a whole new world of problems within the walls of their public schools. From bullying to peer pressure to budget cuts, you'd be surprised at what's actually happening in your child's school.
1. Kids use fake Instagram accounts
As a parent, you likely monitor your child's Facebook page or Instagram account on a regular basis. But what happens when children have accounts their parents never see? Unfortunately, the growing trend in social media is for young people to create secret accounts, visible only to their peers or friends while keeping their "public" persona clean cut. According to Teen Vogue, secret accounts like "Finsta" (fake Instagram accounts) allow teens to post about alcohol, drugs, parties, sex - basically everything that keeps parents like you awake at night. And the worst part? School is the perfect place for teens to learn how to navigate the world of secret social media.
2. Kids participate in self-harm "challenges"
Kids will be kids, but when your student comes home with what appear to be serious burns on his skin, the act is more than simple childhood mischief. Each year introduces a new, dangerous "challenge" or trend, which stands to affect both your kids' health and academic performance. Thanks to social media, this year, the "eraser challenge" is spreading like wildfire in schools. The challenge, which requires participants to rub an eraser on their skin while doing or saying something, leads to burns, abrasions, cuts and a hearty dose of peer pressure and bullying.
3. 3.2 million students are victims of bullying every year
No parent wants to think his or her child is being mistreated at school. But the hard truth of the matter is that bullying affects a lot of students. In fact, according to DoSomething.org, more than 3.2 million students are victims of bullying each year, and approximately 160,000 teens skip school every day due to bullying. Often, parents are totally in the dark about what their child is going through. Bullying in public schools isn't just about bumps and bruises; bullying frequently happens online through social media and is intensified in the classroom.
...and that's not just referring to the students. Today, many Americans - young and old - do not respect teaching as a vocation. This attitude is affecting public schools - and your students. According to Teach Magazine, parents are often involved and eager to work with teachers for the benefit of their children, but "don't display much in the way of respect, and the reasons often have nothing to do with the teacher involved." The result? Parents just don't understand what teachers actually do in the classroom. For example, they may not understand or appreciate that teachers are working with limited budgets, troubled teens and school bureaucracy all in their efforts to educate your child.
5. Budget cuts are harming your child
It's no secret that public education is facing significant budget cuts. What you might not know is how those cuts are affecting your child's education. This loss of funding reduces school staffs, increases class sizes and costs teachers and families more money every year. In fact, many public school teachers pay for supplies and other necessities out of their pockets, simply to deliver better education for your child. And with reduced staff, there are fewer adults present each day to protect students from bullying, peer pressure and myriad other issues facing our students.
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Kristen has a journalism degree and has experience writing in a variety of fields, including art and culture, health and fitness and financial and real estate services. Kristen has written for USA Today, SFGate and the Knot.