Students asked to write paper on “Why people should NOT own pitbulls”

This is our scary pit bull puppy. Run before she kisses you with her poop breath.

I’m working on a story for the BarkAroundTown. com blog about a student at a high school in Virginia* who was given the assignment to write a paper on why people should not own pit bulls.

It’s possible the teacher didn’t know that the student and his mother are actively involved in pit bull rescue. Possible.

As you can expect, the mom and student both objected to the assignment, which didn’t give students the option to defend the pro side of the issue. They’ve spoken with the assistant principal and the teacher, who replied:

“Yes, this is the paper asking students to use the topic “People Should Not Own Pit Bulls.”   When we began this project, several students mentioned that they owned pit bulls.   I said that they didn’t have to BELIEVE people should not own pit bulls, but for the sake of this four paragraph research experience, I wanted them to use the four articles/sources I provided to discuss two reasons why owning pit bulls could be dangerous.”

The issue is a hot button on Facebook today, and I’m sure the school is getting their fair share of phone calls and emails, since the mom shared the story on her rescue’s FB page and asked people to contact the school.** Because the Bark Around Town blog is about sharing information and I try to be more objective, I’m waiting to hear back from the principal and the student before I post over there. But here on my personal blog I want say that I think the teacher dropped the ball on this one.

I understand that teachers occasionally ask students to do an assignment like this – defend an issue they don’t agree with, and I assume it’s to help them understand how to research, how to look for supporting facts for one side of an issue, etc. But in this case, taking the popular view (ie: pit bulls are dangerous) doesn’t really help the matter. If that was in fact the goal of the assignment, the teacher should have assigned the pro pit bull view, or asked students to write on why breed specific legislation is bad. Asking them to defend a popular view doesn’t stretch their research ability or their ability to craft an argument for an unpopular opinion.

So let me ask you this: if your student was assigned this topic, what would you do? Would you protest? Tell your student to write the paper? And if you’re an English teacher, maybe you could shed some light on why a teacher might assign something like this, to defend one side of an issue even if the student doesn’t agree with it?

Stay tuned to; when I hear back from the principal and student I’ll post a more informative story there.

* I’ve removed the name of the school until I can confirm it
**  I just learned that the FB page where this letter appears is NOT the page of the mom who wrote it. I’m trying to confirm the information with the student’s mom.


8 responses to “Students asked to write paper on “Why people should NOT own pitbulls”

  1. I would not approve of my son writing this paper and I doubt my son would want to write this paper. We have a female pit bull and she is the most awesome dog we have ever shared our lives with. My son and I love her dearly and even my husband thinks she is awesome and he is a cat person. I don’t think dogs should be judged by their breed anymore than I think people should be judged by their race or color. If my son was forced to write the paper I would change the title to “why irresponsible people shouldn’t own pit bulls or any other dogs”. If he would receive a “F” then I would complain to the school board. Schools should not promote prejudice against anyone or anything.

  2. I would leave it up to my daughter to decide if she was going to do the paper or not. But I know my daughter and she would not do it. She has already stated “I would rather die then live in a world where my best friend was not allowed.” she is a firm believer in educating the public on the pros and cons of bully breed ownership.

  3. If I had kids of school age, they would not write that paper either. We have a nearly 15 year old pit/bulldog mix rescue boy and a year old pit/boxer rescue girl. Both are wonderful sweet dogs and have never given us any trouble. The girl was abused, but is coming along nicely and will totally recover from her abuse. We also haev a pair of boxer-rotts boys. My kids grew up with a mini poodle and later a Shih Tsu. In his teens, we allowed our son to get a rottweiler. Another sweet dog, despite what is said about them. Our boys are registered and welcome in a local nursing home and will soon be welcome in another. The girl made her first visit to a nursing home a week or so ago and did marvelous.

    It’s all in the way you raise them, treat them, and socialize them!!!

  4. This could be used as a lesson in teaching the youngster to think independently of what the teacher is attempting to program into him.

    Owning a pit bull can be dangerous because their viciously wagging tails can inflict injury on the unwary. He could then elaborate on that theory. He could also mention the danger to treasured objects on coffee tables.

    He could also mention the great danger of possible drowning while being covered by endless sloppy kisses.

    A paper written in this manner would fulfill the requirements imposed by the ignorant teacher, yet still show our beloved dogs in the best possible light.

    I would also submit a copy of my child’s paper to the school principal, along with a written complaint that by attempting to force only the negative aspects of a particular breed to be discussed, the teacher is attempting to teach bigotry. Profiling a particular breed of dog is no different than racial profiling.

  5. I guess I gotta take the other side on this one. We have to practice our debate and persuasive argument skills and this sort of paper is just the place to do it. I am rather surprised that the teacher not only gave only one topic, but ALSO provided the info to support the position on a high school paper? Did she sharpen the pencil and hold the kid’s hand, too? OK, I’m off topic on this blog- sorry.

    I bet the kid could have done a great paper. For example, People should not own pit bulls if they are lazy, or selfish, or mean. Then they definitely should not own pit bulls. Or goldfish. Maybe they could be trusted with a bacteria.

    But back to my original point. Being able to persuasively argue for something is important and useful through out life. We can’t miss that note for the protecting of sweet pittys. ( I just don’t see why no pro and con on the pit bull issue, or no other topic to persuade? )

  6. Perhaps the student could actually agree to write the paper, do the research and state the arguments against pitbull ownership…ultimately finding that the arguments are weak and without merit, and conclude that even though the paper was supposed to be anti-pitbull, there is simply no solid evidence to support such a ridiculous argument.

  7. Sherri, your idea is definitely much better than mine. I have owned pit bulls, usually multiples, almost my entire life. They are an outstanding dog – in the right hands. The main problems with the breed is their total devotion to their owner, and their willingness to do anything the owner desires, regardless of their own safety. Thus, if an owner desires an uncontrollable killing machine, that is exactly what he will have. The other problem, that can be overcome with proper management, is their inborn animal aggression, which is an entirely different issue than human aggression. Believe it or not, but by nature, the pit bull is the breed that is least likely to attack a human of any dog breed in the world.

    Despite their genetic tendency toward gentleness to humans, this is not a breed for a novice owner, unless there is an adequate support system in place, such as PBRC and its “bible”, and the owner is willing to accept advice and learn how to correctly manage and train their dog. This breed responds to love and gentleness, and does not do well with harsh training methods, such as used by a certain popular entertainer on NatGeo.

    Both my current dogs are rescues. The oldest was retrieved from a dumpster when her eyes were barely open. She is now my service dog, and loved by everyone who meets her. Her range of skills, and the ease of training them, astonishes even me. The younger is a deaf two year old who loves everyone and everything. She has no aggressive issues at all, but I still practice crate and rotate when I am not able to be present to supervise interaction with the other dogs.

  8. I own a pit bull and would write the essay about the types of people who should not own pit bulls. People who see them as status symbols, people who plan to fight them or breed them in their backyard for profit. People who plan to keep them on a chain or outdoors all day. And I would write about the amazing power of choice in this country and how those that choose to own a pitbull should behave with their dog. There is no circumstance in which I would sustain the negativity promoting this breed of dog.

    — Sarah and Blackie

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