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Lost: Wallet. Found: A Brave Heart

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A Momologue by Jill: How I dealt with an upsetting school-theft policy.


"My 11-year-old daughter recently lost her wallet at school. That morning, she was sure she had put it in her backpack. When she opened her bag at lunchtime, it was gone. She thought that was the worst of it.

In the wake of a recent rash of thefts from sixth grade lockers--friends, teachers and staff assumed that it was probably stolen. Seems likely, given the circumstances. But what wasn't so likely was the way the school chose to handle it. Backpacks and lockers were opened and emptied, and my daughter was the one who had to go from friend to friend and examine their possessions. While she was rifling through their stuff, her classmates were lectured about stealing by a teacher. The mood around my daughter and her friends and classmates was one of insecurity and suspicion.

My daughter was embarassed and devastated. The emotional toll this took on her for me, her mother, was heart-breaking. She felt absolutely terrible that class time was wasted, and that her friends and classmates were treated like criminals--especially when she later realized she had left her wallet in the car. The tears flowed, as I tried my best to console her.

I support the rule that theft can't be tolerated in school. It saddens me, however, that standards of privacy and personal rights that apply to the public do not necessarily apply to girls in a private school.

My daughter came clean and apologized to everyone involved the next day. I'm not so sure I would be so brave... that wallet would just have to be "lost" forever!"

next: Mister Rogers Would be Appalled!
7 comments so far | Post a comment now
bob November 11, 2007, 9:47 AM

Schools need to prepare kids for life. Even if there was a rash of thefts, lockers are like little homes… in real life you can’t assume that everyone is guilty.

Dr. Gwenn November 11, 2007, 5:56 PM

Your daughter should be proud to have taken the high road even though the grown ups in her school did not provide the best example for how to act when potentially dangerous or destructive actions of others may be at play.

My 13 year old daughter’s middle school had a theft situation this year and handled it very well. They tactfully and discretely investigated what may have occurred and spot checked lockers with only the kids involved knowing what was occurring. Once details were known, they talked to the entire student body but no names were used.

Even in a private school, there should be some respect for the innocent and I’m baffled they’d use public humiliation as a strategy. It certainly raises many ethical questions but more than that is not developmentally in the best interests of the kids.

beth C. November 11, 2007, 8:33 PM

Your daughter is brave! Sometimes schools think they can get away with whatever because no one is really “watching.” So great that you are stepping in and proving them wrong.

Anonymous November 11, 2007, 8:38 PM

It’s part of life. Kids need to learn how the world is when they are young. But I agree, it shouldn’t happen in school.

EC November 12, 2007, 1:22 AM

Private schools definitely take more liberties than public schools—it’s a shame.

Anonymous November 12, 2007, 10:02 AM

I’d be curious to know how you would have reacted if the wallet had been stolen by a classmate and the school “did nothing” about it. Granted, the school could have been more diplomatic about the search, but I’m quite sure that if the wallet had been taken - with no real suspect other than classmates - and the school had not checked bags/lockers, there would be a lot of moms on here complaining that the school was not “protecting” children from theft!

kk November 12, 2007, 10:59 AM

If you think you’re wallet was stolen on a bus, for example, would the bus driver make all the other passengers empty their bags for a search?? No way. The school handled the situation very poorly.

I commend your daughter for admitting to finding the wallet and apologizing. It shows that she was raised with proper values.

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