El Segundo High School gives out “caught being kind” slips that you receive when a teacher or administrator catches you “being kind.” You then turn in this slip to the activities office and you receive a little prize. Yes, it’s an adorable idea and I think whoever came up with it had only positive ideas with this concept.
However, I don’t think kindness is something people should be rewarded for. If you are kind, you should be authentically kind- not “kind” to receive a prize. Copious peers of mine have received “caught being kind” cards for various reasons. For instance, my friend got a card for giving someone a compliment in class. She was honest in her compliment, but received a prize for it. This sparked other classmates to start giving compliments in search of a caught being kind card. Though this seems like a good thing that it makes students want to be kinder, in reality, all it does is exacerbate the inauthenticity so prevalent in Los Angeles already.
A few weeks ago it was lunchtime, and I saw my friend sitting alone. Naturally, I went over to him and sat down with him, and we talked for about 15 minutes. Then, he got up to go to class, and someone came up to me with a smile saying, “It’s so kind of you to go out of your way to be nice to the kids with special needs at this school.” Then, handed me a caught being kind card. Though my initial response was to crumple it and throw it on the ground, I held myself back, waiting for the administrator to walk away. Once she was gone, I threw away the caught being kind card.
Yes, I would love to receive the little stickers that say “Go Eagles!” that you get for a caught being kind card. However, if I were to take this “prize,” I would have been forgetting myself, and my moral standards. To me, sitting with a friend at lunch, whether he has special needs or not, is an action that is natural. I did not think “oh, I’ll seem like a good person if I sit with him.” I simply sat with him because he is a kind person who was alone.
The inauthenticity prevalent in my school is unfathomable. It disgusts me.
Every Tuesday at lunch, I run a club called “Friendship Club”, which mainstream kids decorate cookies or play games with the kids in our school who have intellectual disabilities, to integrate them into our social life at school. I have tried so hard to get mainstream kids to come. I advertise it to all my friends and peers. However, nobody ever shows up. So, I was excited this year when a lot of my classmates came to the first meeting! Then, they all asked me if they could put this on their college applications, and if they can have a leading position to put on their apps. Needless to say, I was frustrated. I told them I would not give them a leading position until they showed up for many months; then they all stopped attending. They only came to benefit themselves and seem like good people on their college applications, they did not come because of the kindness is their hearts. It seems very few teens do anything kind unless they get a reward, and these “caught being kind” cards are good in thought, but only further the selfishness of our students.
Kids need to be raised to have morals. My family taught me that kindness is not something that you do once, rather it is woven into your day-to-day life and the constant, consistent choices that you make- not something you do to receive a prize for being good.