May 27th, 2008
05:01 PM ET

Erica's News Note

Erica Hill
360° Correspondent

I think most parents worry their kids will be the odd one out at school. We all know how wonderful and special our children are, and to us they are the best, brightest, most popular kid anywhere – how could anyone not like them? Sadly, the old adage “kids are cruel” is becoming more and more accurate. The latest example makes me want to scream; it is heartbreaking, maddening and utterly mind-boggling.

A Port St Lucie, FL mom doesn’t want her kindergartner back in school after the five year old was voted out of class. According to Mom, her son’s teacher made him stand in front of the class and then asked every single child to “tell Alex why they don’t like him.” Then they voted on whether he deserved to stay or not. Alex was sent packing by a vote of 14-2.

The school district issued this statement: “The St. Lucie County School District received a complaint about a kindergarten teacher, and is investigating the incident to determine if there is any violation of policies, procedures or ethics. The teacher has been reassigned outside of the classroom at the district offices until further action is determined.” (Janice Karst, St. Lucie County Schools)

I’m still ill.

It never ceases to amaze me how low some people will stoop. The very people, who are supposed to help those in need are instead turning innocent, vulnerable children into victims again. Save the Children UK says children as young as six years old have been forced into sex in return for food or money. Who is abusing those children? Aid workers and peace keepers. It is a sobering, chilling report, released today.

Save the Children UK also said it’s likely these abuses are wildly underreported.

It is important to point out that the vast majority of aid workers are not abusing or exploiting children, but even one is too many.

Until I was about 16, I wanted to be a doctor – a pediatrician, to be exact. I used to love watching knee operations on TV (full disclosure: since I had a baby, I literally cannot stomach these any more). While I can no longer sit through the real thing, I am still fascinated by medicine.

As kids, we learned humans can’t regrow limbs like other species…but our children may learn the opposite. The Pentagon and several of the country’s top medical facilities are exploring “regenerative medicine”. In one case, sprinkling what’s known as pixie dust on a wounded soldier’s finger, to help the body learn to replace what went missing…like a finger. I can’t do it justice, so click here for more.

“The Sopranos” may have faded into cable heaven - or hell, depending on you felt about that fade-to-black ending (I loved it) – but there’s still a chance to own a piece of the dynasty. James Gandolfini, the actor who brought Tony Soprano to life, it auctioning off 24 outfits from the series to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project. The organization helps severely wounded soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.  A great cause... and imagine the conversation piece you’d own!

Filed under: Erica Hill
soundoff (41 Responses)
  1. Jolene

    Erica: I agree with most of the bloggers. The teacher's actions were deplorable. However, I'm even more shocked by the Save the Children UK report.

    I just got done reading the detailed report on the sexual abuse of children by aid workers and peacekeepers (thanks for the link). Some of the stories in the report are simply appalling. It is so sad that innocent children are getting abused by those who are supposed to be helping them. Not to mention the orphaned children, whose only means of survival is to submit themselves to these sexual predators. I’m glad to see that a plan is in place to try to address this alarming situation and I hope that 360 considers doing some in depth reporting on this issue. Young women and children should not be subjected to this kind of sexual exploitation and with the recent tragedies in Myanmar and China, my fear is without media focus, this situation could worsen.

    Jolene, St. Joseph, MI

    May 28, 2008 at 12:30 am |
  2. Jamie Canada

    I think Scott's book is as true as he can recall for the critisims he is going to face is far worse than what he has to gain. For Obama this was a mistake which is human. Being from another country the feeling around the world is Obama is the first person that we feel we can have trust in to help reunite other countries instead of dividing the US from the rest of the world. In any relationship not talking about problems is the worst thing you can do to solve it.

    May 28, 2008 at 12:06 am |
  3. Shellie

    The question and panel comments about how Hillary Clinton has been treated is pretty frustrating when I had to turn off CNN and all news broadcasts over the holiday weekend because the insult to the intelligence of viewers was overwhelming when every five minutes we had to hear another opinion of how Hillary Clinton's statement that Senator Kennedy was assasignated in June was some secret veiled coded message of insult to the Obama campaign, the Kennedy family, the American public and I guess the free population of the world for that matter.

    How can so many journalists buy into such overwhelmingly manipulated facts? I was watching the comments by Ms. Clinton when they were made–on CNN–and to my surprise and disgust, about 10 minutes later Wolf is stating the "breaking news" of Hillary's "insult" as if it were June 1968 and the tragedy has just happened.

    Come on, spend 1/2 this time on really revealing where candidates stand on issues, what their voting record in the senate has been in the past and how they doing their jobs while campaigning! Some real information would be much appriciated instead of overexposed "opinions" of the news panel.

    I thought journalism was the UNBIASED who, what, where, when, how and why...not speculation and sensationalism. Silly me.

    May 27, 2008 at 11:59 pm |
  4. Bren from Atlanta

    I am also shocked by this teacher's actions. They should be licensed! ...and we may now have an inside view to why our children are shooting teachers and classmates. Makes you wonder how others were treated that went unreported. My husband's cousin was killed in the Columbine tragedy. I hope they discipline this woman in the county square. My heart goes out to this child and his family, let me be the first to say on behalf of America, this was wrong and I am so sorry that this happened to you. Not everyone is like this teacher and I pray that his new one is absolutely great and sensitive to your situation and his little heart and spirit will be healed.
    Bren Rohrbaugh
    Atlanta, GA

    May 27, 2008 at 11:03 pm |
  5. angela

    I doubt that this story about the youngster has been adequately researched. When all the facts are out, then it should be reported

    May 27, 2008 at 10:56 pm |
  6. Sandra


    If the story about the kindergartener is true, I am also disgusted. However, I have been a teacher for 16 years, and I have seen many, many instances where the report from the child and especially the parent, is not the whole story. I"m glad the district got the teacher out of the classroom until the investigation is complete, but until such time...well, let's just say there are two sides to every story.

    I hope, for the sake of this child, that it isn't true. Can you imagine something so horrible at 6?

    May 27, 2008 at 10:49 pm |
  7. John

    It's Florida.....why is anyone surprised.

    May 27, 2008 at 10:37 pm |
  8. vickie

    My son wanted to play both soccer and baseball when he was little.The practices were different times of the week and he was only 8or 9 years old so I thought he could try them both to see which one he liked better.His baseball coach made the kids sit down and vote that he should leave the team.My son never got over that ...but....HE PLAYED SOCCER and made lots goals.He is now 34 years old...But he still remembers the baseball coach doing that.He sees the coach every once in awhile and the coach bends over backward to say hello...I think he knows he was wrong.

    May 27, 2008 at 10:33 pm |
  9. Liane

    Hey Anderson,
    When it comes the Obama issue tonight, I think you guys need to look through the file footage and pull the clip of John McCain when he went to Iraq shortly after clinching the Republican nomination – When McCain was addressing the media did Senator Joe Lieberman not have to correct him about Sunni and Shia muslims and which group is in Iran? While I do believe that if you're going to talk about something on the campaign trail you better get your facts straight – it seems that if the GOP is going to use this Obama gaffe to say he is inexperienced they better look at their own guy first.

    May 27, 2008 at 10:09 pm |
  10. Kathy, Chicago

    I love kids. I wanted to have many of my own and also be a teacher. Neither plan came true. i ended up a banker and struggled to have my twins. I can't handle stories about abusing children. These innocent beings are brought into the world and depend on us to love and protect them. Often it is family that abuses them or lets them down. Teachers are also supposed to nurture and educate children. How can these things take place in elementary school. Yikes.

    May 27, 2008 at 9:57 pm |
  11. Ariston, Miami Beach I FL


    I think we always want to give our children better opportunities than we had ourselves, and spare them from things we went through ourselves. It's sad to see what happened in Port St. Lucie, but it's even worst the child abuse of 6yr olds.

    When the time comes, my wishes are to protect my children and give them a happy childhood.


    May 27, 2008 at 9:44 pm |
  12. Genevieve M, TX

    I wonder if that kindergarten teacher was "at her wits end" with this student? This child has "special needs" so he likely should not have been in the class to begin with. The education of the other students in the class should not have to suffer because one student causes a constant disruption. I am fairly certain that this child has some behavorial issues, why else would most of his classmates agree to have him removed from the class?

    I am also thinking that this teacher is not trained in "special education", which what this boy needs.

    What the teacher did was not right, but I believe that we have only heard "one side" of the story. We need to hear ALL sides before making a final judgement.

    May 27, 2008 at 9:40 pm |
  13. anne newfoundland canada

    I would not blame this boy's mom for not wanting him back in that school-and that teacher should be fired,and charged,in my opinion.
    Children are often cruel enough to pick on other kids,without teachers helping it along as well!

    Sounds like this "person" was not fit to even be one in the first place.

    I hope that little boy starts afresh somewhere else,in a new school.

    Regrowing limbs does indeed sound like science fiction,but in fact may become "science fact"-amazing!

    Good for James Gandolfini-for auctioning off the outfits from the show!
    I have to admit,I did not watch much of the Sopranos, though.

    This may be a little off topic tonight,but seeing the Mars landing covered on 360 last night got me thinking:

    With all the gazillions of dollars spent on this thing to see if there is water,or ice,or aliens,or whatever on Mars?

    This money could have been better spent on the many people who are homeless from wars,the cyclone,the earthquake,the tornadoes,as well as the people who are hungry from famines,losing their homes,and jobs,just to name a few.

    Is it REALLY so important and urgent to find out information on other planets-when our own is going to hell in a hand basket???

    I just question people's priorities here-it seems a terrible waste of money!

    May 27, 2008 at 9:34 pm |
  14. Brandi Ranatza

    Erica, the kindergarten story brings back so many horrible memories of what my son endured at the hands of his school and their staff. several of his teachers took part in ridiculing him for years. they allowed other students to do the same. my son would have been 15 on May 17th, if he had not chosen to take his own life in 2006. a lifetime of pain for me and the school system helped contribute to it.

    May 27, 2008 at 9:31 pm |
  15. Annie Kate


    The story on the 5 year old is almost unbelievable I would like to hear the teacher's account of what happened, but if this happened she not only showed extremely poor judgment but a healthy dose of inhumanity as well. People that would do that sort of thing to a 5 year old do not need to be working in any industry or profession with children. Reality tv or facsimiles of it do not belong in the classroom no matter what the age of the child.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    May 27, 2008 at 9:05 pm |
  16. Kristin B.

    I had many similar experiences in kindergarden. My teacher actually let the other kids kick me to wake me up from naptime because I was being stubborn and wouldn't wake up. She also gathered all of my friends up at her desk (on a day she thought I was absent) and she told all of them to stop talking to me because I was weird, they did. I feel so bad for that boy, and its about time someone called the teacher out for abusing a child like that. Thanks for bringing more light to this story.


    May 27, 2008 at 8:41 pm |
  17. Kathie,Ontario. Canada

    Like i've said before too bad common sense doesn't come
    with the degrees they proudly display on their walls.

    May 27, 2008 at 8:40 pm |
  18. Nick H.

    Okay, first off I'd like to say what everyone's thinking "WHAT IS THIS!?" Being a 6th grader I know how it feels to be the odd one out, but this has gone way too far, I mean, really, I'm sure the first thing a 5 year old needs is to have to watch his self esteem crash and burn in a torrent of insults and negative feedback.(sarcasm). If this kid was misbehaving so much why didn't they take it to the principal instead of leaving it the hands of children (and a teacher,apparently) who are no wiser than he is? And why do they need to check on whether or not the teacher violated policies anyway If the school had policies that allowed things like that to happen than this kid should've fit right in. In short I think that the teacher should outright get fired and the kids who voted him out should be forced to apologize and NOT the kid who was booted out.

    May 27, 2008 at 8:06 pm |
  19. Megan Dresslar

    Hi Erica,
    I am agree you too. that is so terriable for kid!, Oh yeah! I remember that I was around 7 or 8 years old little girl I was so sick so much, I missed school a week. So I felt better since last time. But I didn't watch “The Sopranos” the show. I do like James Gandolfini the actor, he is so funny I saw on tv show.
    Here am I! I am back to join AC360 blog tonight! See you there!
    Megan D.
    Shoreline, Wa

    May 27, 2008 at 8:00 pm |
  20. Ed

    In 1952 when I was in the 2nd. grade my teacher tied my pencil to my hand, made me sit in front of the class, all because I didn't hold my pencil right. While it is not the same as being voted out of the class it was, to me, very embarrasing. Guess what? I survived, had friends throughout school, went to college, married, had children, had a long successful career as a lawyer, retired, love my grandchildren dearly, still have friends and am active in my community and church. Abuses happen and they should not, but generally things to work out. I, of course, never told my mother about this until I was well in my 40's. Fortunately for my second grade teacher she was already deceased or my 78 year old mother would have done the job right then and there.
    While it is horrible this happened it is a good lesson for all parents, stand up and behind your children. It can be a tough world out there.

    May 27, 2008 at 7:56 pm |
  21. Chris - Hemet, Ca.

    I was a teacher here in Calif. for about 12 years and we actually had to know something about children!! I certainly hope that the local school board votes her out after each member individually stands up and tells her why! This is disgusting.

    May 27, 2008 at 7:49 pm |
  22. Melissa

    I saw the interview this morning with the Port St. Lucie mom. Her son was sitting on her lap and was very well behaved during the interview. Regardless, this is a child that the teacher was given to teach – special needs or not. Her lack of compassion towards this child is appalling and what she has done is taught other children to hate someone "different" from them. This was an opportunity for her to teach those students to treat each other with respect and compassion even if that person is "different" from them. If this child had any behaviorial issues, by all means the teacher should have addressed it with the parents. According to the mother, this teacher did not find that she had done anything wrong. With that type of mindset, this teacher should have her teaching credentials pulled and she should never be allowed to teach again.

    May 27, 2008 at 7:29 pm |
  23. D

    Great intervention for that teacher. He/She should have to stand
    (no chair) on a stage and listen to the feedback from parents for an hour; and it should be televised. It shouldn't turn into a billion dollar lawsuit. The result should be a more solid screening process for those who work with kids.

    May 27, 2008 at 7:22 pm |
  24. Eleanor

    Hi Erica
    what a childish and immature act of just plain cruelty in my opinion!
    something like that could scar a child for a long time
    that teacher needs some counselling and needs to be disciplined!
    I have to wonder if she is even fit to be teaching
    We have enough cruelty and bullying by classmates
    without a teacher adding to the problem

    May 27, 2008 at 7:14 pm |
  25. D

    One solution to stop this abuse by UN workers. Stop giving the UN
    money for six months to a year; and watch how fast scandals are taken care of. (We should have replacement programs with more ethical organizations so people in need don't suffer) We should also do the same with China until they stop sending dangerous food supplies to people and pets. Why won't we? Because most politicans care more about political correctness and keeping big business happy then taking a solid moral stance. Those aid workers should be in prison for 25 years, serving their full sentence, without
    early release. They should NEVER be allowed to work with the vulnerable ever again.

    May 27, 2008 at 7:08 pm |
  26. Megan O. Toronto, ON, Canada

    the poor little boy. At least two children stood up and did the right thing. That teacher is such an idiot.

    May 27, 2008 at 7:05 pm |
  27. Michael, NC

    Well, I can't really sit here and write a comment different from those above, so I guess I will just say I agree with you guys. That teacher should be fired.
    The story of the step-dad raping his 6 year old step-daughter and now this about aid workers molesting children. It literally sends chills over my body. I have some background in these subjects and I can only say that I hope they bring these cruel, poor excuse for humans to justice. Its just plain wrong.
    I am a chem major trying to go to med school, and I am just the opposite Erica. I used to cringe when I saw surgeries on television, but after an internship at the hospital in the operating room, I can't get enough of it! I just hope that I can one day make others feel better about themselves through reconstructive surgery. It's really fascinating.

    May 27, 2008 at 6:56 pm |
  28. Tammy, Berwick, LA

    If this "teacher" did indeed destroy this little boy, she should be fired from the profession for good and sent for long-term therapy herself. This is so ludicrous there are no words to even describe what I'm feeling right now.

    Ditto on the story about the "aid" workers. How pathologically sick to use their positions to intentionally harm innocent kids already so vulnerable!

    The finger regeneration story is awesome. The possibilities and potential hope this offers-wow!

    The Soprano's costumes-great cause and idea. I know I wouldn't want one, but still fun for those huge fans who do.

    May 27, 2008 at 6:45 pm |
  29. Eugenia

    I really feel that in order to be a teacher you need to have the empathy gene intact. This child will not be tramatized by this situation as long as the parents deal with it correctly. When I was 8 years old the Girl Scouts did the same thing to me and I actually did not even remember it (at least in the last 15 years) until I read your story.

    By the way, they let me stay in.

    San Francisco, Ca

    May 27, 2008 at 6:36 pm |
  30. Bill in Nebraska


    Like I have said many times in my life and even here. What is the world coming to? I can't believe most of what I here in the news anymore. It just tears your heart out at times. I am not a father at 40 but I am an uncle to a great little 4 year old. He is a leap year baby. He is going to have a hard enough time with that let alone all of the other stuff that seems to be going on.

    As for medical science, Man I can hope that they can regenerate fingers. I lost about 25% of my left middle finger when I was 3. I was dumb and the bike won the fight. Yes it was painful and I have never done it again, so I guess I learned from that one. But your are right about the kids now days. I was saying to my brother about his son, that he will never know a life without HDTV, iPods, mp3's, cell phones, testing, high speed internet, and so may other things. It just amazes me what they will get to grow up with.

    Reminds me of my Grandfather. He was born in 1892 and lived until 1983. In his life time he saw it all. Cars, Electricity, TV, Cable, Phone, a man on the moon, Planes, I mean he got to see it all and that is truly amazing.

    So Erica, Have faith. You are a good woman and person so your son will grow up to be more amazing then you or your husband. It is just the way it is. Keep your chin up and remember that there are lots of us out here that feel just like you. Keep up the great work and hope to see you tonight on the show.

    May 27, 2008 at 6:35 pm |
  31. Judy Stage

    Erica, Yikes!! What was the teacher in Port St.. Lucie thinking? Obviously she wasn't thinking of the consequences of her decision. How do kids survive this stuff when the teacher is the bully. Thanks for blogging about it. I have a grandson, a college junior,and English major, who plans to teach high school English and I save all these reports for him so he can be aware of the actions of some teachers and become better prepared for what is really happening in our schools.

    May 27, 2008 at 6:16 pm |
  32. Lilibeth

    That St. Lucie teacher should be the one voted out. What she did was emotionally and mentally abusive, and for those reasons, she has no business being a teacher. She should be punished for what she did and be banned from teaching ever again.

    Yes, one is too many for aid keepers abusing children. That just makes me sick. Before they are accepted to join a humanitarian organization, are these people subject to criminal and background screening like everybody else? I hope so.

    Regenerative pixie dust...sounds exciting! If this materializes, it will truly be a miracle.

    See you tonight Erica.

    Edmonds, Washington

    May 27, 2008 at 6:12 pm |
  33. Carrie in CT

    That to me does not even make sence, a teacher incouraging and or going along with something like that happening in a classroom and too think my 5 year old starts this fall.

    May 27, 2008 at 6:03 pm |
  34. Larry

    I see that we only need the mom's side to determine what really happened in the classroom.

    May 27, 2008 at 5:57 pm |
  35. Sharon from Indy

    Alex's teacher should be arrested for child abuse.

    A rejection like that from his classmates could affect this little boy for the rest of his life; his self-esteem may be un-repairable without therapy.

    Even if this little boy, a kindergartner, a five-year old, is a monster in the classroom with his teacher and friends, the election to shun him from the classroom was not a democratic process; it was an emotional lynching.

    May 27, 2008 at 5:49 pm |
  36. Betty Ann, Nacogdoches,TX

    OMG Erica!
    That teacher just "bullied" a child!
    Talk about gang related behavior!
    I am totally disqusted. Thanks for the report.
    That teacher is sick and should be fired.

    May 27, 2008 at 5:47 pm |
  37. Fay, CA

    The St. Lucie County School District received a complaint about a kindergarten teacher, and is investigating the incident to determine if there is any violation of policies, procedures or ethics.

    It sure sounds like a violation of ethics to me. The teacher who instigated this should be fired. Don't kids have enough trouble as it is dealing with bullies in school? We certainly don't need teachers behaving in such an irresponsible and cruel manner.

    The report of aid workers and peacekeepers abusing children is horrific–I hope the kids who have suffered through this will get the help they need and the perpetrators punished. There has to be a better system in place to prevent this type of abuse from continuing.

    May 27, 2008 at 5:46 pm |
  38. Alexander

    Well, it just never ceases to amaze me how easily people will abuse children simply for profit- especially these young and vulnerable children. I do not think these aid workers really do have a conscience. I also am dismayed at the Port St. Lucie story about the teacher and the child who was 'voted out' of the classroom. However, concerning the 'pixie dust' story, I find that entirely fascinating. I am glad you brought that to light. I hope it is something that pans out in the future. And, Erica, no need to feel squeamish. I'm sure you'll regain your tolerance for such imagery again in the future.: 😛 : )))

    May 27, 2008 at 5:36 pm |
  39. Kim in NY

    My 11 year ld son is autistic. My greatest fear is that he would become a target in school. He is highly intelligent, but not very good at communication and has not one athletic bone in his under developed body. The fears grew as he got older. Much to my pleasure, he has turned out to be one of the most popular kids in his 6th grade class. The other students embrace him and even help him when needed. I guess what I am trying to say is that not all kids are cruel. The kids that surround my son are top notch. And it is sincere and loving, not obligated. He truly is an original and he is truly blessed to be surrounded by his friends and peers.

    May 27, 2008 at 5:33 pm |
  40. Claire

    Since when has school turned into a sickening reality program? That "teacher" should never be alloweed to teach again. What in the heck was she thinking? If she had a problem with the boy she should have phoned his parents.

    May 27, 2008 at 5:33 pm |
  41. Jennifer NC

    Hi Erica,
    The story about the "Survivor Kindgergarten" experience makes me ill too. I am an elementary school special ed. teacher and am appalled that this could happen. If it really happened the way the child said it did then that teacher needs to be out of the classroom for good. All kids have feelings and deserve to be respected. That experience would crush the ego of any kid but to do that to a 5-6yr old is reprehensible.

    May 27, 2008 at 5:30 pm |