A school is under fire for stamping kids’ arms with the words “lunch money”
An elementary school in Phoenix, Arizona is under fire this week for a way they’ve been alerting parents that their student’s lunch accounts are overdue.
Tara Chavez noticed a mark on her son’s inner wrist when she picked him up from school last week. Upon closer inspection, she realized her child had been stamped with the words, “Lunch Money.” Chavez’s friend, Juan Fortenberry, posted a photo of the stamp on his Twitter account over the weekend, where it quickly went viral.
My friend's son came home from school Thursday with a stamp on his arm that said "LUNCH MONEY" because his account was low.
— Juani Malek (@juanyfbaby) April 1, 2017
This is the stamp. On his wrist. pic.twitter.com/I0OCK8VeBa
— TECHNOprah (@juanyfbaby) April 1, 2017
“My kid’s really weird about stuff like that, so I asked if he was given a choice by the lunch lady and he said, ‘No, she just grabbed my wrist and put the stamp on,’” Chavez told Buzzfeed. “I was surprised. Normally I get a slip in his folder when he needs more money.”
Chavez emailed the principal of Desert Cove Elementary to ask her about the stamp, and provided a copy of her emailed response to Buzzfeed. “[The staff member in the cafeteria] doesn’t want the students to be embarrassed either so she is supposed to ask them if they want a stamp or a reminder slip,” the principal wrote.
Okay, so we’re admitting that it’s potentially embarrassing for students, but still doing it?
The boy received lunch despite his low funds, but was embarrassed by the stamp and upset when he got home. “He was humiliated, didn’t even want me to take a picture of it,” Chavez said.
Twitter users are weighing in:
@juanyfbaby Sounds like purposeful shaming when phones, emails and written notes/letters are options. Our new world.
— Jules (@ScentsyJules) April 1, 2017
If only we had some kind of technology that would allow the school to quickly communicate with parents. https://t.co/GloKloGRyK
— Pete Holiday (@toomuchpete) April 1, 2017
— Kevin Alvarez (@GrandeKxJ) April 1, 2017
@juanyfbaby They did this to me growing up in Colorado, too, so it’s been around for at least 20 years ☹️
— Jess Ryan ✨ (@jessryanco) April 1, 2017
@juanyfbaby Too rich for FRL, often too broke for school lunch. I’d’ve been stamped, & then bullied as the “poor kid”. It’s literally a mark of shame.
— Steph⚛Hardesty (@mentalina) April 1, 2017
To anyone saying, “well, parents shouldn’t let accounts run low!” — who the heck knows how much money is in their kid’s lunch account at all times? My son’s elementary school uses an online system and when he runs low I get an email prompt to load up the account with more money. And if that service wasn’t provided, I would sure as hell expect a note in his backpack, email, phone call, text — not a stamp on his arm. Elementary school is hard enough for kids — do we really need to add another layer of awkwardness by doing something like this?
No. We don’t. It’s a terrible idea. The appropriate response from the school would have been, “Sorry. We will stop doing this immediately.” Not, “Well, we asked the second-grader if he was okay with being branded first.” By the way, Chavez’s son claims he was not given a choice; “she just grabbed my wrist and put the stamp on,” he told his mother.
Can we treat our children like humans and not cattle? They aren’t the ones responsible for the low account, anyway. The only proper way to handle this is to inform parents, and not by using their child as a canvas.