Friday, February 11, 2011

Bad Influence?

We've all heard this story before. Kid makes a new friend. Parent doesn't like the new friend. Tells kid not to play with the new friend anymore because they're being a bad influence on the kid.

Before I get to my shocking story and reasons for completely disagreeing with this concept, I'd like to point out that I've personally heard from 3 menahalim of yeshivas in the Brooklyn area that they follow this very method when dealing with kids who don't obey their rules...and I'm not talking about violent behavior or disrespecting a teacher. I'm talking about following a yeshiva's specialized rules. No mp3 players. No going to the pizza store during recess (because you might chas veshuloim be in the same room as a nekevah!)  

You don't follow the Yeshiva's rules. Take a hike...We don't care how you behave or what your grades are. Theres no excuse for goyishe music.

Why? Because we don't want you the rotten apple to spoil the rest of the bunch.

I've seen many a yeshiva student suspended and even expelled for disobeying these types of rules, which frankly I find absurd. Kids with decent grades who listened to their Akon mp3s on their iPod are getting booted from school. There are kids who are failing their classes that stay in yeshiva because they behave in an erlich manner, but the kid with the hankering for pizza at lunch gets chucked. Of course once you're booted from a yeshiva, you're blacklisted and end up in a "nebach case" institution that propels your downward spiral into academic mediocrity.

Anyhow, heres the story. My friend's brother was not the frummest kid, but was part of a group of friends who were more shtark than he was, and they all hung out together. His parents had no idea of how to deal with their problem child. He was a good kid, just misguided... and all he has in life are his friends. Needless to say the parents of these friends are none too happy about the fact that this vilde chaye is hanging out with their sons. All the boys are planning on going to camp together and be in the same bunk. Now here comes the kicker... The friends' parents have talks over the phone and decide they don't want this monster hanging out with their kids in the summer, so they call the camp and basically badmouth the kid to the point that his application is rejected and he spends the summer alone in the city. The result, he only plummets further into the mess he is in.

What are these people teaching their kids? What are these yeshivas teaching their kids? If someone around you is not the way they should be, throw them out of your life lest you become like them. What happened to helping these kids in their hour of need? Wouldn't having a group of friends in a positive environment help the kid with their situation? Are we really so selfish that we throw these kids to the gutter or as I like to call them "nebach" schools, "bummy" schools or (my favorite) "Messed Up" schools?

This issue goes deep into the mess that was going on with the whole Sefardi segregation in Israeli girls' yeshivas. We don't want these girls with non religious relatives to damage our pure frum from birth daughters with no ties to anyone other than the frum velt. Throw em out. Separate them. That's basically the mentality. I don't know where this came from but i know its not the way the Torah dictates Jews should conduct themselves. These people need to reexamine their attitude towards people who are different and embrace kids with differences and difficulties instead of throwing them out. If your ability to teach and raise your children is impaired by someone else's kid, then you're clearly not establishing a very solid foundation in your child's upbringing. Teaching a child to care for others and help them if they're emotionally or spiritually distressed can only be a positive experience. Veahavta Lereacha Kamocha. Thats what its all about.