I share a classroom with other teachers. Today, one of these teachers accused one of my classes of stealing/damaging some of his lab equipment.
The class under scrutiny is my absolute best group of kids. That's not to say that each and every one is an angel, but the simple truth is that I don't start from that assumption that they're all devils. It seems fair to give them the benefit that they act with good intentions. Out of all of the supplies and lab equipment I have placed in their way this year, nary a single item has been abused or gone missing.
This other teacher, however, sees only sophomores, something slightly below slime mold on his version of the evolutionary scale. The senior AP students who use the room during a different class period (and hold court at two of the lab tables) couldn't possibly have anything to do with his issue.
He suggested I mention things to my students today---and I said I would. After he left, I thought about what I wanted to say to the kids. If, indeed, one of them was guilty, I am not a believer in the proverbial group butt-chew. Teenagers suffer enough with being painted with the same brush. I am not going to be a party to that. However, believing as I do that they are good people, I saw no harm in mentioning the issue of stolen property to them in case they saw/heard something and could help solve the mystery.
I have to tell you that my kids were genuinely horrified by the suggestion that they were thieves. I made it clear that I, personally, trusted them and had no reason to doubt their motivations. Most of them had no clue what the equipment in question actually looked like---so I had to dig around for some to show. They agreed the stuff was cool, but not that it was okay to take any of it.
This other teacher wanted to blame some of my boys. He referred to them as "bad" and "stupid." I'm not sure why he would say this. He has never taught any of them. His only communication has been to yell at a couple of them when they borrowed a ruler off of a table for an assignment. After ~155 school days, I know my kids. To this other teacher who is so fond of dismissing brown male teens as trash, I can only say one thing: Whatever.