Opinion: View of students’ Nazi-vs. Jew game shows parents’ hypocrisy

12:00 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 27, 2017 Atlanta Education News
High school students at The Lovett School were punished after playing a "Jews versus Nazis" game of beer pong. (Credit: Channel 2 Action News)

As disturbing as it was to learn that underage students from the prestigious Lovett School in Atlanta played beer pong with the cups arranged in the shape of a swastika and a Star of David, the public reaction was even more troubling.

News accounts of underage students playing the popular drinking game as Jews vs. Nazis sparked hundreds of online comments last week, most critical of the serious punishment meted out by the school, which was tipped off by a social media postings of the party. (Why is it teens cannot resist posting photos of even their dumbest actions?)

According to the AJC, five seniors were suspended and one was expelled for their role in the off-campus party with 19 current Lovett School seniors, three alumni and about 10 other students and graduates. Lovett is a private school with a code of conduct for its students. The code of conduct and the school’s character expectations don’t stop at the school grounds.

In a statement, Lovett said: “Character education is at the heart of all we do at Lovett, and we deeply appreciate the individuals and organizations across our community who are helping us to continue to learn and grow from this very troubling incident.”

Many commenters argued the school had no right to act because the drinking game occurred at a student’s home. They also maintained the game itself was harmless, both in its Jews vs. Nazis theme and in the underage drinking.

Among the responses:

Let’s consider what these remarks are saying:

First, we expect all teens to drink because everybody did it. Let’s not forget how many teens are dying in car accidents in which they or the driver had been drinking.

According to the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention when asked about alcohol usage over the past 30 days, 33 percent of teens admitted to drinking, 8 percent drove after drinking and 20 percent got in a car with a driver who had been drinking. The CDC also reports that excessive drinking is responsible for more than 4,300 deaths among underage youth each year, and accounted for $24 billion in U.S. economic costs in 2010.

Second, the comments contend schools have no right to censure student behavior beyond their doorsteps.

Meanwhile, parents increasingly demand schools police their children’s social media usage, even though parents buy their kids smartphones and allow them 24/7 access to the devices. And most school policies attempting to ban the phones from classrooms have eroded in the face of parental insistence their kids have their phones within immediate reach at all times.

A parent recently complained to me her child was playing games on her phone during math class. The mother blamed a lax teacher for failing to monitor her daughter and prevent her from sneaking out her phone. I asked the mom why she just didn’t take away her teen’s cellphone. The woman said her daughter “needed her phone for emergencies.”

Noted one lone commenter: “So when your kid commits suicide at home from being bullied at home (online) from his/her peers at school then I assume the school should stay out of it then. Or when your kid’s nude photos get leaked online, I’m assuming yet again the school should stay silent. Sounds about right, but typically parents blame the school for these very same cases.”

Whenever there are news stories of high school athletes being arrested, the public sentiment mostly runs the other way if those kids are African-American. Then, the comments are typically, “Throw the thug out of school.”

As one commenter said: “The same people complaining about Colin Kaepernick kneeling are the ones making excuses about how there’s nothing wrong with what these kids did.”

And, lastly, comparing high school seniors using a Star of David and a swastika as a drinking game motif to young kids playing cowboys and Indians in the backyard is flawed reasoning. While I agree the teenage brain is a work in progress, I have to believe some of the smart Lovett students at this party realized the Jews vs. Nazis idea was repugnant.

As one commenter said: “People are actually arguing for the kids’ rights to play Nazis vs Jews. Like somehow this is OK. Can anyone add to the end of their sentences that they find this morally reprehensible?”

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