Just … Shocking

You know, I’ve not read the local paper in a while, nor have I paid much attention to the local news. I remember a couple of years ago when Brittany Benefield made headlines for being 15 and attending UAB. I pay attention to UAB when I can; they’re a sister school, and I watch them.

So I read her story about slipping into alcohol, drugs, and sex with athletes at UAB, and I understand one reason why Ann Reynolds isn’t President at UAB anymore. This year, I was much further out of the loop with the UA system schools … but this is just … hell, I don’t have a better word than “disgusting”.

What the hell was UAB thinking?

13 comments

  1. That goes far beyond just "disgusting." I can believe that something like that happens, but it still makes me physically ill at the very thought. It’s sad how some people’s naivety is shattered.

  2. There is absolutely no excuse for what was done to this girl. I hope they win every one of the lawsuits.

    That being said, I think one of the preventative lessons here is that there are serious risks with immersing children in environments filled with much older people. Even if it had not come to sex and drugs, it looks fairly clear that the age difference alienated her pretty badly. I admire her and her parents for wanting that eductaion, but sometimes Doogie Howser stories are best left to television. My heart and thoughts are with this family, but this really should be a warning for others considering a similar situation.

  3. Absolutely, Jeff. When I was a kid, part of me wanted to skip ahead and get out of all the boring classes I was in. But by the time I hit 16, I’m very glad that I didn’t start college early or even high school early.

    This was further confirmed when I moved to MSMS. 🙂

    And if you want to see someone who very easily could have been bumped ahead a few grades, well, he’s the big tall guy who just moved to town and ate dinner with us last night. The Rick is more than a little smart. 🙂

  4. I agree that the vast majority of above average intelligent kids most likely would wind up in similar situations as this one. But, you also have to take into account her life before going to UAB. Her parents very much sheltered her. I think because they sheltered her she did not learn the vital tools on socializing and handling the real world physically and mentally.

    It’s one of the big reasons why when kids get interviewed going to ASMS, they are not only interviewed for their intelligence, but also their ability to socialize and emotionally handle being away from home and in a completely different environment than what they’re in at home. Even after that, there are people who still can’t hack it. It’s a reality, yes, but in this case I don’t think anyone really took her lack of social skills into account.

  5. Well, Jeff noted that … and I think that’s one of the biggest things about kids getting skipped ahead in grades. You’re seen as a freak.

    Hell, I was seen enough as a freak as it was, and given when my birthday is, I’ve always been one of the oldest people in my class that didn’t get held back.

  6. Same here. My birthday was 7 days after the cutoff point. That really sucked a lot growing up. Then again, I’m sure it didn’t help that instead of skipping me ahead a grade, I just became a tutor in most of my classes.

  7. Kids who are skipped ahead in grades are considered freaks. I should know. I lived it.

    Not every kid who is double- or triple-promoted is going to have academic problems by the time they reach the collegiate level. I’d say that most of them fare well, academically speaking…because by that time, they’ve had the chance to [academically] acclimate to their ‘new’ level.

    Socially speaking, and God how I hate to say it…I have never met an accelerated student who fared well socially. It’s a bit of a chicken-and-egg question, really — you’re talking about kids who, due to their academic ability, weren’t terribly likely to fit in well with ‘normal’ kids in the first place anyway.

    Add in this factor and you have a recipe for trouble.

    I’m inclined to defend the parents a good deal in this situation. Parenting is a difficult deal even with the most normal and well-adjusted of children, but there are at least generally-accepted guideposts for what you should do and expect.

    With phenomenally gifted children, all bets are off. How do you relate to a child that is two and is reading? Or a six-year-old who understands more complex math than you did at the end of high school?

    You do your best, and most of the time it’s not enough.

    Ok. I’m shutting this off before this becomes domesticat.net II…

  8. I think the real mistake was sending her off to school. The article says that they lived an hour from campus. That’s a little long, but not a bad commute. Geof, do you think that Allen Bryan would have made it at State if he had been allowed to graduate at 12? What about if he’d been a cute female? (scary thought, isn’t it?) Our parents were wary to send us off at 16 to MSMS and with good reason. But, we were still far more sheltered there than at any college.

    And I am not a believer in rapid promotion. My mom had told them no before she told me about the offer to skip from 1st to 2nd grade. As a teacher, she knew the emotional and social development that would develop in that time. There is much to be said about developing your social skills as well as your academic skills.

  9. I knew this was going to turn into an Allen Bryan discussion eventually. 🙂 I think I’m going to email Allen and see what he thinks of this situation. He’d probably have some good insight.

    When I was at MSMS, I thought Allen’s parents clamped down a little hard on him as far as not letting him have freedoms and such. But the more I think about it, the more I think they did the right thing.

    I’d say that Allen turned out well. Doing an MD and a PhD at the same time? Smarter than I’d want to think about! 🙂

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