One of the more disturbing stories to come out of an American school is about a lesson given recently at Churchville-Chili Middle School in Churchville, New York, near Rochester.
Seventh-grade students in a class called Family and Consumer Sciences were given a lesson about shaken baby syndrome, or the sorts of injuries that can occur when a small child is shaken violently by an adult. Because of children’s undeveloped neck muscles, babies in particular can be in danger of death if they are shaken, even if the intent is playful.
Part of the lesson included a video showing a child hospitalized because of being shaken by his father, and an interview of the father, who wound up being sent to jail because of the injuries he inflicted on the baby.
So far, so good.
Then the teacher reportedly took out a doll, similar to one produced by RealityWorks called RealCare Shaken Baby, and began to shake it to demonstrate what happens to an infant. The students allegedly were then told to take turns shaking the baby.
As the doll was shaken, the “baby” began to scream. The students were told to shake the simulated baby as various sections of its brain lit up, indicating successive injuries, until the baby stopped screaming, ie, it was “dead.”
The lesson first came to light because of a parent’s tip to a blogger, according to the Daily Caller, after the student came home and appeared to be deeply distressed.
According to the parent’s retelling of the student’s account, about a half dozen kids participated in the simulated infanticide. Reportedly, one student cried, “Yes!” as the shaking and screaming began, and reportedly a couple of students got very violent with the doll, banging it on desks and against a wall, celebrating when the child was dead. Some students found the situation humorous. Others appeared sickened and averted their eyes. Some pulled the hoods of their sweatshirts over their heads and put their heads down on their desks.
The student who related the incident said he was the first to refuse to participate, apparently to the surprise of the teacher, then other students followed his lead and refused to shake the baby.
At this writing, links to the page describing the family and consumer sciences class appear to return a “not found” error, a search on the school website for the class returns zero results, and the middle school health curriculum appears to be temporarily unavailable. Previously, the site had stated, “Career and Technical Education which includes Family and Consumer Sciences is a program designed to prepare students to meet their responsibilities as family members, consumers, home managers, wage earners, and parents. This course is designed to prepare you to become ‘Life Ready.'”
Since the story about the classroom lesson first aired, the school principal and superintendent released a brief statement, according to a blog Lennie Jarrat at ChampionNews.net:
“From: Superintendent of Schools Dr. Pamela Kissel and Middle School Executive Principal Giulio Bosco
“RE: Churchville-Chili District Response to FACS lesson: Shaken Baby Syndrome
“The objective of the FACS class topic discussion is to teach students how delicate babies are and not to do anything that would intentionally harm them. After several interviews of students and other staff who were present in the classroom at the time of the Shaken Baby Syndrome lesson, it was apparent that these allegations were inaccurate. The district strives to provide classroom environments that are supportive during difficult discussions while preparing our students for life.”
Since the memo doesn’t specify which “allegations” are inaccurate, it’s hard to gauge exactly what the school officials are saying, other than to try to wash their hands of the incident.
No one, however, seems to be denying that the lesson took place and is approved by the school.
That in itself raises the question of who, exactly, thought it would be a good idea to teach children about child care by having them kill a baby, even a simulated one.
What next? Are we going to start teaching about the Holocaust by picking out a couple of Jewish students and having the rest of the class “gas” them? Maybe we should teach about slavery by having students whip their classmates? And sex ed — well, hubba hubba.
It takes some deeply disturbed thinking to come up with a “health” lesson that involves practicing how to kill a child.
You can’t help but wonder how many other schools are using this same hideous lesson plan?