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Old 14.01.2011, 18:30
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Questions on teacher's punishment

My son has 2 different teachers, Mon-wed & Wed-Fri (Wed is half&half day). One of the teachers seems to be a bit of a mean one to the kids. Soon I am going to approach her on some things she has done, and I would like to hear if anyone can give me some info.

My son, in first class, has been made to sit out of Physical Education class 2 times, for trivial reasons. However sitting out of PE means 45 minutes, sitting in the classroom on his own.

As far as I am concerned, this is too long.

So two questions: I heard (3rd hand.. so forgive me) it is illegal for them to have someone sit out this long. Secondly, as we are paying for his education (albeit via taxes) I would expect that he receives all of it. I don't mind if he has to sit out for 10 mins, but 2 times @ 45 minutes is too much.

Last point - she has actually told the children before "I don't like boys" and apparently she is far harsher on the lads..

Sorry for long rant post, but I'd like to discuss her with as much info as possible.

Any info is appreciated.
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Old 14.01.2011, 18:44
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Re: Questions on teacher's punishment

Do you have any idea what he did to warrant this?
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Old 14.01.2011, 19:06
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Re: Questions on teacher's punishment

I remember back in school we were getting punished by either being dismissed for the whole period of the class and stayed alone, sometime we were forced to even sit after school in the library as punishment, even one time i got called off a class for 4 consecutive periods (I know i were so bad at the time ).

I would say speak to her, and evaluate if what your son have done worth this punishment, sometime kids need these kind of punishments to behave, you don't want to end up with a spoiled kid in the end, aren't you?
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Old 14.01.2011, 19:24
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Re: Questions on teacher's punishment

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Do you have any idea what he did to warrant this?
Thats one of the first questions I will ask her. He said he was just talking. However we know what kind of watered down version the kids can come home with!

I want to make sure the punishment fits the crime.

Spoiled kid? Never.
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Old 14.01.2011, 19:44
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Re: Questions on teacher's punishment

Excellent - good luck. As an ex teacher, I am so glad to read that you are fully aware that your son's version maybe a little short. I really hope you'll find that you, your family and the teacher can all work as a strong team to allow your son to reach his 'potential'.
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Old 14.01.2011, 20:12
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Re: Questions on teacher's punishment

I would suggest a couple of strategies to get the teacher on to your side. As a teacher myself, I know that these help considerably.

No matter what you may feel on the matter, do not go in with "a point to prove". It never, ever, works. The school will close ranks around the teacher in question and isolate you.

Tell the teacher when you see her that your son has been in trouble and you would not only like to know what he is doing but also what you can do to support the teacher. This will make the teacher less defensive and will also make the teacher more tolerant of your son because she will know that you are supporting her and not blaming her for anything that is going on. Talk to her about when he is getting into trouble, who he is with when this is happening, is it at a particular time ( it might be in the afternoon when he is tired so his concentration levels drop ) and if he is a "follower" or an "instigator" of any such behaviour.

Also listen to any advice she has and then act upon it. No matter what you may feel, there are actually very, very, few teachers who pick on children. In 15 years of teaching I have yet to meet one. Teachers want the best for their pupils and want them to be happy - if for nothing else then it makes the lesson go easier.

Good luck.
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Old 14.01.2011, 22:40
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Re: Questions on teacher's punishment

Another two pence from the teaching profession...

1. Chances are your son doesn't like this teacher. But does he like PE? If he does, forgive me for asking. Only sometimes if a kid knows the punishment is to miss the class altogether then being sent out actually becomes a great escape. Is the teacher's attitude bothering him so much? are their classmates who tease him? Check out what else might be going on with him.

2. As others have said: don't corner the teacher. They can bite. Approach with the attitude that you want to help your child be in the class, so "what can we do to get him there"? I'd use the term we as often as possible to indicate your willingness to participate in the solution but also that you consider it her responsibility to meet you half way.

3. Regardless of the teacher's circumstances (having a bad day, run down by bad behaviour, etc) you have every right to ask her what her follow-up plan has been. A teacher can't keep sending a student out and not following up on it with the student and/or parent. If it's bad enough to remove him from the entire class then it's worthy enough to have contacted you with the concern -did she do this? (This helps you determine to some degree if it was simply convenient or if the grounds for removal were serious).

4. Don't leave the meeting without establishing the next step(s) with her. Get her email contact (teachers usually have a school email) and write her after the meeting to recap/make sure this is what we agreed upon very, very briefly. If she doesn't contact you, follow up on it. I gotta tell you that teachers often get annoyed by this when parents behave like there aren't two dozen other kids to teach, but if your child is being made to sit out the WHOLE of a class then this is a pretty big deal.

Good luck to you!
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Old 14.01.2011, 22:55
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Re: Questions on teacher's punishment

Thanks all for the input. I may have come across that I planned to go in all guns blazing, but definitely not. I will discuss this in a civilised fashion and be sure to get all of the facts before taking the appropriate action.

My question was really in the case where she was in fact being a bit tough.

To add another piece of info, which may have made me sound a little gung ho, in my son's kindergarten, the teacher was a very harsh woman. Long story short, recently she inflicted an extremely cruel attitude to a current student (and others before) but it was the straw that broke the camel's back. She has since been removed, and is undergoing psychological help.

But thanks again, and enjoy the weekend.
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Old 14.01.2011, 23:01
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Re: Questions on teacher's punishment

I'm sure you'll handle it well. If the teacher reacts badly, then you will have good grounds to go further. It's just that some of us teachers have had parents who have come 'all guns blazing' as you say, and who will just not accept that their child is not a perfect little angel, and will not hear the truth. it really does not help - and as said above, the child is the one who suffers in the long term.

Wishing you all the best - and would love to hear how you get on.
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Old 14.01.2011, 23:28
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Re: Questions on teacher's punishment

OK, well, I'm obviously not a teacher.

I have no idea how old your son is or what he's like and whether he "deserves" punishment. If he's 7 then to exclude him for 45 minutes is clearly not OK. If he's 15 then that's different.

But - I don't think it's right for any teacher to exclude your son from two 45 minute classes without telling you about it - immediately. I'd expect a letter or a phone call on the day when it happened explaining why. To me it's a serious punishment and I would want to be informed straight away by the teacher if my son was behaving badly enough to warrant that.

And also the "doesn't like boys" thing would have me absolutely up in arms - that is absolutely not OK - to say that or imply that or behave like that.
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Old 14.01.2011, 23:48
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Re: Questions on teacher's punishment

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Also listen to any advice she has and then act upon it. No matter what you may feel, there are actually very, very, few teachers who pick on children. In 15 years of teaching I have yet to meet one.
Ok, never mind the flack that might come, but. OP - never just blindly obey the teacher. I would never listen to ANY advice and just act upon it without actually thinking about it, having things explained, etc. It's your kid. In fact, above is the weirdest piece of parenting advice I have come across and it is clear it comes from a teacher. There are quite a few teachers who do feel incompetent and pick on kids. I have met enough, unfortunately. Disrespect, manipulation, undermining comments, wrong assessment, power games, sexism, racism, you name it...It happens as often as in any other career. Teachers are humans as anybody else. Here or elsewhere.

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Do you have any idea what he did to warrant this?
I think it is irrelevant. A 6 (7?) kid should not be left alone unattended for the whole class, if only for a security reason. If my child gets into "isolation" for that long without any supervision, I'd be asking the teacher's direct supervisor. Something tells me there is more to the story. But completely aside to that, we are not allowed to leave a teen unsupervised, I doubt the teacher is actually allowed to do this. Contest the teacher's disciplining ways, since it seems to be a teacher's cop out. That's a pretty heavy caliber.
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Old 15.01.2011, 08:41
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Re: Questions on teacher's punishment

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Ok, never mind the flack that might come, but. OP - never just blindly obey the teacher. I would never listen to ANY advice and just act upon it without actually thinking about it, having things explained, etc. It's your kid. In fact, above is the weirdest piece of parenting advice I have come across and it is clear it comes from a teacher. There are quite a few teachers who do feel incompetent and pick on kids. I have met enough, unfortunately. Disrespect, manipulation, undermining comments, wrong assessment, power games, sexism, racism, you name it...It happens as often as in any other career. Teachers are humans as anybody else. Here or elsewhere.
I don't remember writing anywhere that the OP was a blithering idiot. Of course she is going to look at the advice critically and then assess it. Only an idiot would do otherwise.

Is this normal behaviour for you? I doubt it, so why suggest it is normal behaviour for others?

I stand by what I say. In 15 years of teaching I have never met a teacher that picked on kids as a matter of course. Teachers are more than happy to rip each other apart, but they tend to leave the kids alone.

Perhaps you teach in Primary and it is different there?

As for parenting advice, I would probably hazard a guess you are not a parent, otherwise you wouldn't have the strange impression that ones children are all goodness and light.
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Old 15.01.2011, 10:46
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Re: Questions on teacher's punishment

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My son, in first class, has been made to sit out of Physical Education class 2 times, for trivial reasons. However sitting out of PE means 45 minutes, sitting in the classroom on his own.
Had a similar problem with my son when he was in the 3rd class. I asked the teacher if she could let him go 10 minutes early from the last lesson on a Monday morning, which was PE, so that he could get to his music lesson in another school building on time. She refused so I said I would ask the school commission which I did. After a major conferences the school commission came to the conclusion that" PE was part of the school curriculum as much as maths was.and couldn't just be skipped at will". The result was, as expected, in favour of the teacher. I accepted that decision.

A month later however the same teacher decided to punish my son by making him miss out on PE for the following month (albeit sending him to another class). I responded by saying that I didn't agree to this as "PE was part of the school curriculum as much as maths was and couldn't just be dropped at will", and suggested a detention instead. This idea didn't please her either as it meant she would also have had to stay behind after school. Naturally I was not very popular.

Think the OP should find out for certain whether the teacher is allowed to exclude pupils from PE and, if so, insist that he at least goes to watch or to another class during that time.

Last edited by vwild1; 15.01.2011 at 11:59. Reason: fixed broken quote
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Old 15.01.2011, 11:04
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Re: Questions on teacher's punishment

I'm a Primary school teacher so thought I'd add my opinion on this one.

There are so many unanswered questions here.
Firstly, I think excluding a child from a whole lesson and putting them in another room is unacceptable in any circumstances. I can't answer whether or not this is illegal in Switzerland but I would definitely say it's unprofessional.

Here are some questions I would want to know the answer to if I were in your situation. I do agree, though, that when you meet with the teacher, you don't appear to be attacking her. We much prefer it when parents want to work with us, rather than against us!

1. Whether your son has been excluded as a consequence of something he has done in the PE lesson or because of something he has done, or not done (e.g. work), in another lesson.

2. How this punishment fits in with the schools behaviour management policy. (If it doesn't have one, why not?!)

3. What your son was doing while he was excluded (catching up on work, reading a book or sitting staring into space) and whether he was completely on his own in the classroom or whether there was another teacher/teaching assistant with him. (If he was completely on his own, or with nothing to do, you have grounds for serious complaint.)

4. Why was it not possible for him to be excluded for a short period of time in the same room as the lesson was taking place, at least that way he could listen to the teaching taking place.

I would ask to meet with the other teacher who teaches your son and see whether there is a pattern of behaviour here (e.g. he's an angel for the other teacher and tyke for the one who takes PE.)

If it is a behaviour that keeps occuring across the week, draw up a plan, in writing, with the teachers and most importantly, with your son, so that everyone knows where they stand and what to expect. Something along the lines of... "If X does Y during a lesson he will be asked to stop/not do it. If he continues Z will happen. (Sit out for an appropriate length of time etc) If Z happens more than ? times in a week, Mr/Mrs will talk to parents. This agreement will be reviewed in ? weeks time."

Then, if she starts excluding him again or doing something else, you can refer her to the plan made and have more of a leg to stand on.

Hope that might help and that you get this resolved.
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Old 15.01.2011, 11:16
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Re: Questions on teacher's punishment

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Had a similar problem with my son when he was in the 3rd class. I asked the teacher if she could let him go 10 minutes early from the last lesson on a Monday morning, which was PE, so that he could get to his music lesson in another school building on time. She refused so I said I would ask the school commission which I did. After a major conferences the school commission came to the conclusion that" PE was part of the school curriculum as much as maths was.and couldn't just be skipped at will". The result was, as expected, in favour of the teacher. I accepted that decision.

A month later however the same teacher decided to punish my son by making him miss out on PE for the following month (albeit sending him to another class). I responded by saying that I didn't agree to this as "PE was part of the school curriculum as much as maths was and couldn't just be dropped at will", and suggested a detention instead. This idea didn't please her either as it meant she would also have had to stay behind after school. Naturally I was not very popular.

Think the OP should find out for certain whether the teacher is allowed to exclude pupils from PE and, if so, insist that he at least goes to watch or to another class during that time.
I think the OP should find out what is the root cause of the problem, rather than spend time trying to facilitate the punishment. The punishment, while on the face of it is draconian and harsh - along with that given out to your child, but it is not the real issue. The real issue is what is causing the problem.
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Old 15.01.2011, 11:22
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Re: Questions on teacher's punishment

Regardless if the little one has been naughty or not.... he's in 1rst grade !

1. A child of that age should not be left on his own for a whole period
2. Even if it's safe, it's a long time to be excluded from his classmates

Very very poor teaching indeed !
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Old 15.01.2011, 11:48
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Re: Questions on teacher's punishment

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I don't remember writing anywhere that the OP was a blithering idiot
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Also listen to any advice she has and then act upon it.
Aha...

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Is this normal behaviour for you? I doubt it, so why suggest it is normal behaviour for others?
You are just proving my point. I never did suggest it is a normal behavior. And thanks, it is not mine, either. I said teachers are like anyone else. Not better, not worse. Most are fantastic and in my...what..17 teaching years I have met most brilliant teachers. Some aren't as brilliant and yes I have met teachers who pick on kids. When I was a kid in school myself, even at uni, or when I teach. I objected your general statement about teachers since my experiences are very different. Teachers are not gods. Teachers also do other things we wouldn't like to think of, just like any other human being. And it is not only teachers. Anyone who works with kids. My child was hit at creche by the stagier. Now. I could also think teachers in kindy never hit kids and get it off my mind. I didn't do it, made fuss, the stagier went through a tough procedure to process this complaint. If anything, it gave her less taste for hitting a 4yr old next time. Do you see where I am going with the analogy? Quality control and here more than anywhere else. Let's have that teacher explain why she isolates a 6yr old for almost an hour, all by himself. She might figure out a better pedagogical ways to actually work with this little kid next time, maybe not. But maybe it will allow the director actually think about what his staff does. Why don't I trust all teachers, unconditionally? Why don't I also think teachers don't pick at kids? Because I have worked with them so long. There always is the odd example of a nutty one who picks at colleagues, kids, whoever...Just like anywhere else. And, you know what? More stressful, challenging or emotionally charged the work environment is (disadvantaged kids, orphans, refugees, poorly paid work, or the team is not cohesive and cooperative, directors unsupportive or that specific person might have personal problems, you name it...) more likely it is to occur. I am not saying it is the norm, nor that it happens frequently. I am saying it happens.

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I stand by what I say. In 15 years of teaching I have never met a teacher that picked on kids as a matter of course.
Well, that's excellent, really is. Fantastic. I wish no teacher never picked at kids, in fact I wish kids never picked at eachother, but you know what, reality is different. We are not only talking about picking at some random kids. It's a teacher who isolated a 6yr old alone in the class, without supervision. Why it happened will most likely explain the harshness of the punishment, but it is completely irrelevant. In fact, it's a pedagogical situation that teachers opted not dealing with. It will not go away, it needs to be addressed. Leaving a kid behind like this (I would certainly leave my student with a secretary, in director's office, in detention after school hours, with a nice extra work to deal with, for example, or imagine that - saturday morning is a great time to be copying some school rules with me or drilling some grammar rules) is not only asking for a trouble (how high is the class, are the windows sealed shut, what's in the trash, is he hungry, is the class locked or he has access to the toilet, who will he meet in the toilet while the classes are going on, other kids can come there, are the corridors supervised, the school door locked, etc) but also exposing him to be picked at by other kids when they return. It seems the teacher is using the rest of the class to sort out the troubles she should be dealing with, herself. It is also strange the parents haven't been informed, ie the reason, what the punishment exactly was (I hope she didn't just leave the boy there to pick his nose, if kid is excluded from social activity, he needs work), etc. It is arrogant on the teacher's part.

Now. You seem to assume a lot:

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Perhaps you teach in Primary and it is different there?
No.

And, again, it is not a matter of how old the kids are. And not about career, either. It's about people's characters. It's like saying bosses never snap at their secretaries. Cops are friendly. Or doctors are always kind to their patients. Nurses always do their job well. Most do. Some don't.

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As for parenting advice, I would probably hazard a guess you are not a parent..
Oh, really?

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...otherwise you wouldn't have the strange impression that ones children are all goodness and light.
Where did you read that in my post?

Your reasoning is very black and white. So, if one disagrees professionally with a colleague's pedagogical ways it makes one a kid ambassador? And think kids are "all goodness and light"? Do you treat parents this way when they come for an explanation? Do you also tell them to "listen to your any advice and act upon it"?

So, say the teacher was wrong and she picks at little boys, whatever else. Parents put up with it. Kids feel like it is absolutely a-ok...What message does it give to kids? It is important that parents stay behind their kids, if there is something wrong going on, especially in those early formative years, when kids accept authority so well and with minor questioning. They need to feel the justice, that they are protected by the system, they need to trust the authority. I think the OP should definitely question and if the teacher's punishment was warranted, help her figure out a punishment that is more efficient than what she has chosen. Parent knows the kid better. If the kid really did something evil, it is a lot more effective to have parents and school cooperate on fixing it. Not just let the teacher lock the kid up for an hour all by himself. Besides, somebody should tell her "I don't like boys" comments aren't so cool anymore.
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Old 15.01.2011, 12:13
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Re: Questions on teacher's punishment

Dear OP, go for the tactics "Hello teacher, I have pieces of informations that do not fit together, I give you what I have, please let's figure out what is missing and put it right together".

Cognitive science is a big help too:
- one does not remember factual experiences but our perception of it at that time.
- children put facts and feelings all together when reporting about incidents or experiences
- one should not trust one's memory of what has been said too much, as one does not remember wordings but the meaning one makes out of it at the time of enonciation.

Therefore:
- quotations are dangerous, one can be convinced 100% he or she said this and this, even if the actual wording was different and/or the context and tone made it a totally different one in reality.
- children's report on what happened are to be interpreted in the light of the feelings of the child in that situation and the personality and history of the relations between involved parts.
- perceptive subjectivity may easily lead to misunderstanding and misinterpretation of experiences and other people's intentions.

On that note, I wish you good luck with the adult conversation that is still ahead of you with the teacher.
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Old 15.01.2011, 15:21
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Re: Questions on teacher's punishment

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I objected your general statement about teachers since my experiences are very different. Teachers are not gods.
And I object to your comments because my experiences are very different to yours. So where does that leave us?

Oh and no-one ever accused teachers of being gods. That is extrapolating the the point beyond its reasonable limit.

As for the examples you give, lots of bad things happen around the world. That is no good reason for going around with the view that those things are happening here. They may do, but they also may not. Most of what the OP has said, other than her child being put into a classroom, is hearsay. Did the teacher really say she doesn't like boys? Did the OP hear it? Or did her son report it?

You also seem to have a rather negative view of the whole situation. These things happen in a school and they are dealt with in due course. Getting upset is not going to help much and neither is having a paranoid outlook.
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Old 15.01.2011, 15:37
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Re: Questions on teacher's punishment

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Do you have any idea what he did to warrant this?
Asking this question is relevant of course. However I'd like to apologise as I had read the OP wrong - and understood the child is in first year at secondary school. Of course a child of 5 or 6 should not be left on his own for that length of time.
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