Back To High School

By Celia Coates

In 1990, the National Women’s Health Network published an editorial by Bev Baker about issues that might affect the health of teen girls. “Back” in this title refers both to an earlier post about high school and to this one that’s a look far back at discipline problems in schools. *

Bev Baker wrote 28 years ago that,

“It is difficult to go through a single day without some type of reminder that young people are in need of attention – and the future of our country depends on our response to their needs.” **

 She went on to include two lists of problems compiled by the California Department of Education and the Fullerton Police Department: one of seven problems from the 1940’s and one of seventeen from the 1980’s:

1940’s –

  1. Talking
  2. Chewing gum
  3. Making noise
  4. Running in the halls
  5. Getting out of turn in line
  6. Wearing improper clothing
  7. Not putting paper in the wastebasket

And now for the 1980’s –

  1. Drug abuse
  2. Alcohol abuse
  3. Pregnancy
  4. Suicide
  5. Rape
  6. Robbery
  7. Assault
  8. Burglary
  9. Arson
  10. Bombing
  11. Murder
  12. Vandalism
  13. Absenteeism
  14. Extortion
  15. Gang warfare
  16. Abortion
  17. Venereal disease

What happened in the 40 years between the two lists?
And, what is happening now, decades later?
The news of the last few weeks involving part of teen life in the 1980’s has shown that what was going on was especially destructive for girls. I’m not sure whether there are any problems named for the 1980’s that can be removed from the list, but there is one that can be added for the 2010’s – school shootings.

When I look back at the years I was in high school (a long time ago) the list would look more like the one from the ‘40’s than the ‘80’s.
What would your list look like?
And why is this a subject for WINN?

I’m deeply interested in how our society readies its children for life.
What is the cultural consensus about what makes a good person and a good life? What lies behind how we treat each other?
What do we value? What really matters?

It’s my point of view that, over all, we are so caught up in competition and material success that being good is considered naïve and behaving well falls far behind getting ahead as a goal. Once we know that reality has many dimensions, our sense of what makes a good person and a good life changes – and that is the center of WINN.

* WINNpost September 14th High School Is Rough All Over)
** THE NETWORK NEWS, September/October 1990

The image that heads this post is by John Hain, from Pixabay.

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3 Comments Add yours

  1. nancy prendergast says:

    This is an increible pulication, Celia, congratulaions!! Best always, Nancy

  2. Anonymous says:

    As a fellow high school classmate, I concur with your comment that our list of issues was much closer to the 40’s list than to the 80’s list, let alone the putative 2010 list. I hope you continue to pursue the question of what has happened in the intervening years, and how all of this affects the challenge of raising children to be good, generous, and loving individuals and members of society. This is indeed WINN, and you are on the pulse of it. Thank you.

    Your high school classmate and friend.


  3. Lisbeth Bagnold says:

    While I can only reflect on jr high and high school from the late 50s to mid 60s, my recollections include a propensity toward elitism an exclusion. Petty gossiping, cliques, Social bullying, and power plays both among girls, and in girl boy-relations (sometimes resulting in sexual misconduct). It was a time of identity development, which seemed more closely connected to group identity/belonging rather than individual, grounded being.

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