Yang Safia On Wednesday, August 13, 2014
Initially I didn't want to share this story so publicly because I knew that I will come off as way too emotional for my own liking. Also possibly I know that people are not going to like what I have done considering that these kids are only 14-years old. I choose to share because I want to remember this incident 1 month to 20 years from now when I'm teaching a set of new students or raising my own children.
Today started like any other day. The weather was a lot better in Kapar because it wasn't too hot and quite windy. I went to my weekly teachers' meeting and later invigilated the Bahasa Malaysia test for Kelas Peralihan kids. The second class I entered was my most challenging class and the last class of the whole of Form 2. The last class I had with them went well and the kids who proved to be problematic before have been "sorted" by either the Discipline board or me. I was expecting good things. The moment the test was over, the kids screamed and it went slightly chaotic. I was able to tolerate it (even though the usual well-behaved ones were starting to act up...I reasoned because they were glad that the test was over) until I saw *Rubina grabbed a boy's butt and smacked it. She was screaming with glee and her friends commended her actions.
I called her over and asked her to explain what just happened.
She denied that it happened.
I got angry.
I pressed on and said, "Do you think you would like it if he grabbed your butt? Or what about your breasts? You need to respect him as well. Look at me. I'm talking to you and you're not looking at me. Tell me. What if he grabbed your breasts?!" She rolled her eyes at me.
"Don't you have any self-worth?! Do you think your mother would have approved your behaviour just now?!" She shrugged and kept looking away.
I let her go when kids from next door started hanging by the class windows and everything just got ten times more chaotic. As I tried to bat them off, I heard a shriek and saw that the boy (who got his butt smacked) and his friends were invading *Rubina's personal space. There were forming a circle around *Rubina and her friends. One boy had *Rubina pushed up against the wall with his both hands on either side of *Rubina's head. Her friends were busy shrieking in fake fear.
That was when I.freaking.lost.it.
I screamed so loud that the kids next door ran back to their class and everyone in my class went back to their own seats. The last time I raged was at the start of the year to my Form 4 boys. Honestly just as I am writing this, thinking what happened today got me boiling again.
I went up to the boys and gave them a piece of my mind. I don't remember what I said but they gulped. Then I went to *Rubina and her friends and said, "Keep behaving the way you are and one day, you are going to get raped!" Said would have been an understatement because I straight up screamed into their faces.
Then I started to pace around the classroom and delivered possibly my most heartfelt, angry and disappointed speech ever in my life. They probably think I'm nagging but I gave them a reality check. I know there are certain things I should have kept from them considering that are ONLY fourteen but let's just say these are the things I am constantly worried about but never really shared with them. First I addressed at how they were behaving with the opposite sex. Now before you think I am overreacting or being an uptight conservative, I blew up because that particular incident was the culmination of various misbehaviour between the boys and the girls. I glared or tsk-ed when the boys would pull the girls' hair or when the girls' hit the boys with their books. Just last week, I caught *Rubina and her friends skipping my class because they were in an empty classroom with a group of boys. Also it did not help that at today's meeting, the school board shared with us the news of a Form 2 boy from our school who got trialled at juvenile court for rape. I admit, I didn't think too much of it at the time but clearly it affected a lot more than I realized seeing how I blew up at my kids today.
As I told them about respecting each other's personal spaces, one boy grinned and mumbled, "Main-main saja Cikgu..." (We were just joking around, Teacher...)
"You might be joking now but when you turn sixteen, one of you is going to file a report about being sexually harassed or worse, RAPED by your own friend!" Then I told them about the story of my own sixteen-year old student who got sexually harassed by a boy (of whom I teach as well) while his friends watched. It all started when she thought he was only joking around. It started with a poke at her side or hair pulling but things progress. In another case, I caught a girl who brushed me off because I "overreacted" when a boy grabbed her breasts as she screamed her head off in what now I call fake fear.
Then I went on to talk about their futures. You see, a lot of my kids have part-time jobs and what this does to them is that these jobs boost up their egos. RM 200-400 is a lot to a 14-year old and this makes them uninterested in their education. Here's the reality: In a low socio-economic community such as Kapar, jobs like technicians with the promised salary of RM1000 are considered the crème de la crème. And I told these kids, RM1000 sounds a lot of money right now but when one of your family members is sick or you want to live in KL, RM1000 is nothing. So unless you want to help yourself and your family, you better buck up and learn.
Going back to just behavioural things, the sense of humanity in Kapar is deteriorating. I might sound dramatic but that is just how I feel right now. What I can do right now is to really speed up on my second year initiative (which is addressing the behavioural issue here but I will talk about this later when I'm ready). Honestly even if I can't successfully teach them to read and write (because they can't at 14-years old), I will prevent them from making stupid decisions. Fact: The boy who got his butt smacked can't even read and recognize alphabets and I just found out that he got himself a tattoo.
They will not be making any more bad decisions as long as I'm teaching them. Not. Anymore.
Posted by Yang Safia at 6:48:00 AM