The War On Kids is a documentary that explores the war on school children in the United States. There seems to be a fairly unique phenomenon taking place in the good old US of A, particularly since the Columbine incident, where elementary middle and high schools are being treated like prisons to the extent that students are prisoners. Metal detectors, police patrolling hallways, drug sniffing dogs inspecting lockers and backpacks, cameras everywhere… It’s really shocking to see just how bad it’s gotten.

Because it is being argued by school administrators that kids aren’t people, they are being treated as if they have no rights. They are interrogated by their principals who then turn the ‘testimony’ over to the police, without asking parents for permission to question them, and without reading the student their miranda rights. Many students are being charged with felony offences for trivial infractions, things like one student shoving another can become a felony assault charge and can cost that student his right to vote, turning this into a very concerning issue of eroding democratic values.

The film then discusses the extent to which pharmaceutical drugs are being prescribed to children. It notes that in England, these same drugs have been banned from being used on kids because there is no evidence that they work with kids. It mentions how these drugs are stunting the growth of many of the students who are taking them, and highlights a powerful correlation between anti-depressants and school shootings.

Apparently this phenomenon extends all the way to the Supreme Court. In 1988 the US Supreme Court ruled that schools may censor student news papers. The state now also dictates curriculum, even for history classes.

It also raises excellent arguments against the schedule where one subject follows another in quick succession. NY State Teacher Of The Year, John Taylor Gatto, argues that just as you become enveloped in a subject that you enjoy, the bell rings and you are forced to drop everything and go to your next class.

It also makes very good arguments against homework, pointing out a lack of studies supporting the idea that homework improves performance, and noting that the correlations that do exist are weak and in fact fall apart when examined using more sophisticated statistical techniques. In fact, there is no study or correlation that shows homework before high school improves anything.

The documentary consists largely of interviews with various individuals such as teachers, principals, leaders of organizations pushing for better educational environments, and most importantly students. It is broken up into different chapters or “lessons”, which smoothly lead from one into the next. In my opinion they could have made the same points just as well within a shorter period of time, but over all I consider it a documentary well worth watching if the topic interests you.

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