Childrearing

Middle-School Teacher Shows Stunning Lack of Judgment, Screens Video of ISIS Beheading for Kids

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153725656Kids are individuals with varying degrees of emotional and intellectual maturity, so the question of “age appropriateness” of any media is a thorny one. However, one middle school teacher in the Bronx showed a stunning lack of judgment in screening a video of an ISIS beheading for a class of eighth graders last year.

Teacher Alexiss Nazario of the South Bronx Academy of Applied Media reportedly showed the eighth graders a video clip of a masked man holding a knife to the throat of a kneeling journalist being held hostage. The video blacked out the action of the actual beheading, but the kids got a full view of the aftermath, including the journalist’s severed head propped up on his own chest.

That’s a lot for a kid to take in. The kids were understandably very upset, and investigators say that at least one student was in tears. One girl allegedly approached a school staff member immediately after the screening and said it had scared her. Another boy later told school officials that he’d been having trouble sleeping since seeing it.

Parents were livid, and it’s no surprise. I mean, my parents got mad when my high school science teacher showed us footage of animals being electrocuted at a fur farm, and that was nowhere near as traumatizing. A man of my acquaintance just looked at me in horror when I told him this story and said that he’s 38 years old and has never seen a video of a murder, and he would like to keep it that way. We can’t shield kids from everything that goes on in the world, and we shouldn’t try. But there’s a pretty big difference between telling kids about current events and showing them actual footage of a man being murdered on camera.

Nazario could have been fired over the incident, but instead she was given a $300 fine after an investigation. According to the New York Post, there were conflicting reports about what exactly happened in the classroom. One student told investigators that Nazario told them, “This is what is happening in the real world,” before playing the queued-up clip as part of a lesson on current events in Iraq, but Nazario told the Post it was an accident and she accidentally clicked the wrong link and played the video, which she had not seen before.

That could be conceivable, but if it were an accident, wouldn’t you think that any reasonable adult would stop the video the moment she saw a masked man holding a knife on a hostage? I think we could all guess what was coming next, if it were actually an accident.

Even if it were an accident, clicking unfamiliar links for ISIS videos in a room full of middle schoolers seems like a recipe for exactly this kind of disaster. At the very least, Nazario is guilty of exceptionally poor judgment.

The Department of Education was reportedly seeking her termination, but in light of her 26-year record as an educator, an independent arbitrator said she deserved a lighter punishment and she was fined $300. She now reportedly works as a “roving substitute” at different schools, and hopefully none of them let her anywhere near a video player.