It was NOT where I wanted to spend my Friday night: in the principal’s office of my 13 year old’s Jr High School.
It all began a week ago when Alfie was LATE home from school. This wouldn't normally be a concern since kids in Japan walk home on their own and if they have nothing on after school can and will take their time. But he had soccer practice and he's never late for soccer. We began to fear the worst. We called school. Alfie was in the principal’s office. Great. What had happened?
The teachers had caught 2 kids with lighters in their bags (not Alfie). At first they thought they were experimenting with cigarettes, but it was worse than that.
Some of Alfie’s friends had been lighting paper / trash / leaves… on the way home from school. And Alfie had seen them and not said anything. And participated??? Still not sure on that.
The school called in all the parents of the 8 kids involved. I was dreading being yelled at for 2 hours and then being made to apologize for my child. BUT, the school handled everything very well I think.
With the parents, the homeroom teachers, the dean of students and the soccer coach (most kids were on the school soccer team), the dean explained what had happened. I felt a bit sorry for the main culprits (Sato, Suzuki, Arai). They had brought lighters to school and planned where to meet up to burn things on the way home. Not just one location—many. Not just one time—-10 or more. Alfie and the other accomplices, were implicated because they WERE there at least once or twice and never said stop.
The dean had three main points:
1. The boys had burnt a number of things and were getting more brazen.
2. They COULD start a fire—- that COULD kill someone/ burn down something.
3. No-one had said: “Stop. We shouldn’t do this.”
I totally agreed with them. After the Mom of the main culprit (one of my friends) tearfully apologized for her son, the boys were brought in. Each apologized in turn and said what they would do in the future. Some cried. It was very emotional. And each boy had written an essay about their actions. Alfie’s in English. It’s the most he’s ever written in English. Maybe the school is on to something.