6th Graders at Chatham County school asked to write paper on assisted suicide

6th Graders at Chatham County school asked to write paper on assisted suicide

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Assisted suicide is a polarizing issue many politicians and doctors around the country are debating. Now, they’re talking about it in 6th Grade English classes at Savannah-Chatham County Public Schools.

The assignment given to 11-year-old’s at West Chatham Middle School is asking them to decide whether they think euthanasia should be legal in the United States, and write a five-paragraph paper persuading the reader to agree with their position.

“It’s a parent’s worst nightmare for their child to commit suicide," said parent, David Griner.

Griner felt a piece of that nightmare when his 11-year-old daughter came home asking about assisted suicide. After learning of her class assignment, he started asking friends and family if they felt as uneasy as he did about it.

“I wanted some opinions on how to guide my child through writing the paper, because I wanted her to make a good grade, but I honestly didn’t want her to write about the subject," he said.

He’s not alone. Dr. Doris Greenberg is a developmental and behavioral pediatrician who thinks this project is crossing the line.

“This is absolutely out of the league of a child who is in the 6th grade. Talking about suicide when we worry about these kids being very impressionable. This is just wrong," Dr. Greenberg said.

In a statement, Savannah Chatham County Public Schools defend the project.

“They 6th grade ELA (English Language Arts) teacher provided students with a writing assignment to further promote an educational emphasis on argumentative writing and critical thinking. The assignment required students to read the article, identify text evidence, and to take a position. The teacher was attempting to engage in a cross curricular approach to writing by having students monitor the news and current laws or bills related to this issue. The teacher was not siding with either side of the issue nor promoting a cause."
Savannah-Chatham County Public School Sytems

“Kids her age, a lot of times, think of suicide as a solution to bullying or peer pressure or other things, and I don’t want her to ever feel like that’s an option that’s right," Griner said.

The Savannah Chatham County Public School System now says permission slips should be sent out for projects that include sensitive material like assisted suicide. Dr. Greenberg says there is no certain age for a parent to bring up any particular mature subject. Every situation is different and should be at the parent’s discretion.

“If they hear the word or they go to a movie, that’s the time to talk about what it is and what the families beliefs are, and to answer questions, It’s not something that you say, ‘alright your child is 14 now, we are going to talk about suicide.’ That’s not appropriate.”

The school district says parents can always contact the school if they have concerns about an assignment their child has been given.

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