How far is too far in letting kids be their “authentic selves”?

September 29 – After rumors circulated that a student at Chambersburg Area Senior High School was seen leading another student around the halls by a dog leash and reports that a student walked in on a sexual act in one of the bathrooms, News Talk 103.7FM emailed the district for clarification.

The Chambersburg Area School District responded yesterday confirming both the above-mentioned scenarios and assuring that measures are being taken.

Attorney Clint Barkdoll, Pat Ryan and Michele Jansen discussed the issue this morning during the Big Talk on First News.

Ryan asked, “What is a parent to think about on the school district? What is your opinion of what’s happening in the school district? Isolated incident? Probably not.”

Barkdoll said, “Hopefully the board and the administration take quick action to address this, whether it’s suspending the students involved, even expelling them. These are difficult situations because districts can’t publicly disclose a lot of details on these kind of incidents. If there’s criminal charges, these are in juvenile court, which by their nature are sealed, they’re secretive. Even the disciplinary action, that would be done in the context of an executive session, so there’s not going to be any kind of a public announcement or vote to disclose what happened. Now the district might generically make a statement that we’ve taken corrective or remedial actions and that we’ve suspended someone or we’ve expelled someone. That’s probably about the extent that you’re going to hear. Beyond that, if you’re a parent naturally worried about these kind of things happening in a high school, I think it’s appropriate to make your comments known to the building principal, certainly to the school board at a public meeting. They should be assured that there’s safety or adequate safeguards in place to make sure this kind of stuff is not happening day after day, but I think from a public standpoint they’re going to be very careful and limit how much they say publicly about specific details of these incidents.”

Ryan pointed out, “We were talking in the building yesterday about you know you used to have to have a hall pass to even be walking the hallways or some sort of key to the bathroom.”

Jansen said, “The problem these days now we have this weird new ideology that says if you’re being your authentic self, you can do anything you want. I bet the kid leading the other kid down the hall with the leash, if that indeed happened, they would say this is somehow their authentic selves and they should be able to do it. We have lost standards of every kind. Even having sexual acts in the bathroom. I bet they’ll be somebody out there who will challenge them even punishing that, saying they’re just being their authentic selves. They should be able to do that. We used to have standards. Social standards. Especially for kids in school and I am afraid this new push about being our authentic selves has just destroyed so many of these standards, blurred the lines. Children don’t understand where they are anymore.”

“And then fueled by social media,” Ryan added.

“Yeah,” Jansen agreed. “It is really frightening.”