Children in the Dark

This morning I arose at 6AM and got ready to go to work. It was dark and extremely cold outside (about 20 degrees). As I got into my car at 6:30AM, I noticed two dark figures trudging by. As they passed I noticed they were kids about 13 - 15 years old. I asked them, what are you doing? One of them said, "We're going to school." I said, "Isn't it a little early?" The other one said, "Yeah, we have to catch a bus at 6:40."

Wondering if this was the exception or the rule, I drove around the dark freezing neighborhood. I saw other figures. It was like a scene out of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD -- dark figures here and there trudging to bus stops. I caught a few little faces as they passed under street lights still lit. They were red and tormented. It almost made me cry.

So I drove over to the two schools in the local area (TE and Conestoga) to see what kind of activity was going on there in the freezing black of this "morning." As I drove by the junior high, I was horrified to see cars all over and lights in the school burning. I drove down the street to the high school and was even more horrified to see a parking lot filled with about 50 cars. Dark figures were stumbling out of cars, so I drove up to one of them which was walking towards the school building. I asked her, "Why are you all here?" She said: "We're faculty." I asked what time school starts and she said 7:40AM. I said, "Isn't that a little early, studies have shown that children need 9 or 10 hours of sleep otherwise it can damage the development of their cerebral cortex." The "teacher" looked at me and sneered: "Well take it up with the school board." Before I could say another word, she had turned her back on me and continued trudging into the "school" -- a cold, dark zombie.

I couldn't help thinking this was exactly how those poor suffering kids on their way to bus stops will turn out if left to this brutal, uncaring public school system.

Impossible Hours:

Obviously it's much worse today than it was in even the 1960s. When you do the math, here's what it all adds up to: Some of the kids, the ones in high school, have to be AT the bus stop BY 6:40AM. That means they have to get up at 5:40AM to even have an hour to get ready, eat breakfast and walk 5 or 10 minutes through the dark cold. If they need 10 hours of sleep, this means they must BE ASLEEP by 7:40PM. Since it often takes 15 to 30 minutes to get to sleep, this means they need to be in bed by as early as 7:10PM. If they get out of school at 3:30, and some stay much later if they have sports, it takes them at least 30 min to get home. This means they are home by 4PM. Dinner is usually served at 6PM, thus they have only 2 hours between when they get home and when they eat dinner. Since this is the only time they have to themselves to play and do what THEY want to do, you can't blame them for not choosing to use this time to do HOMEWORK. So after dinner, it's now about 7PM and time for homework. Homework can take anywhere between 2 and 5 hours, depending on the grade level and the number of subjects taken. Private schools usually brutalize kids with an hour of homework per subject AND an hour or hour and a half of sports after class. But let's say homework is an average of "just" 3 hours. This means the student finishes dinner at 7PM and then has to confront 3 hours of homework. He is thus not ABLE to go to bed until 10PM! Allow 30 minutes to get ready for bed, wind down from all of the above day's stress and fall asleep, and this child will not start getting his REQUIRED sleep until almost 10:40PM. If he has to get up at 5:40AM as above stated, this child will only get 7 hours of sleep. This is 2 to 3 hours short of the basic biological minimum required for proper development of the cerebral cortex during childhood or adolescence according to a recent Harvard study. Even if a child can get away with 9 hours of sleep, it means they must BE ASLEEP by 8:40PM, and they are still 1 to 2 hours sleep-deprived. Isn't one of the tortures we use in the Iraq War, sleep deprivation?(1)

In order to stay awake during school hours and/or the drive home (in cases where students drive) many students take amphetamines and other drugs, legal and illegal. This drug use degrades concentration and increases the amount of sleep necessary to repair the damage to the brain.

In essence, the school system is guilty of a systematic and slow destruction of the youth due to the inhumane and insane policies set by ignorant school boards and the local governments that condone such child abuse. This system MUST change and all those responsible should be removed from office/post and brought to justice for their criminal offenses on the most vulnerable members of society. And if this system doesn't change soon, don't be surprised if students and/or parents boycott or riot.

(1) See: and

09 December 2006

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