SCHOOL FINDS CREATIVE WAY TO MOLD BEHAVIOR

April 02, 2001 12:00 am

In a perfect world, parents would teach their children how to behave in public. They would instruct their kids not to utter profanities or grope and kiss their boyfriends or girlfriends in the high school hall.

Life is not that simple. Even if parents model the best public behavior and instruct their children along the same lines, young people do not always get the message.

Officials at a high school in Federal Way, Wash., have come up with a creative way to teach young people how to behave in the hallways and other public places. Beginning in April, teachers will start handing out tickets to students who engage in PDAs (public displays of affection), or utter profanities.

The high-schoolers will not be required to pay a fine or sit in the principals office for a couple of days as their punishment. Cited students will be required to write a paragraph explaining why their behavior was unacceptable. The assignment is due the next day.

The consequences are not unlike the old way of encouraging good behavior among children by asking them to write on the chalkboard 50 times, I will not sass the teacher, or I will not be late for class.

Federal Ways new program should be an effective deterrent. Other schools may want to pick up on it. The teachers will not be extreme in their enforcement. They will tolerate a couples quick goodbye kiss or the squeeze of a hand. Theyll draw the line on conduct that people find offensive.

These lessons can be just as important for a young person as learning about the periodic table of the elements or the parts of speech.

SUPPORT FREE SPEECH

A rally in Moscow Saturday shows how far Russia has come since the dark days of being shrouded by the Iron Curtain. And how far the country has yet to go.

About 20,000 people attended a rock concert/rally in support of NTV television, the only Russian TV station still outside the control of the Kremlin. The rally was a chance for people to speak out for press freedoms and freedom of speech. Interestingly, NTV covered the rally while the two state-funded channels, ORT and RTR, were conspicuously absent.

Rally organizers say a move is under way for the government to take over NTV. The network has been critical of the governments handling of the war in the breakaway republic of Chechnya and the business and political corruption that runs rampant in Russia. The rally allowed people to step outside on a sunny day and hear rock music and speeches censored under the Soviet regime.

Press freedom is an important cornerstone to the freedom of a country and its people. Long live free speech.