|Chapter 18 : A Proper Upbringing|
|April 21, 1999
Ok, everyone's talking about it. 13 People were killed in the massacre in Littleton, Colorado. I am not counting the two gunkids, because, well, they just aren't worth my counting.
But why? Why has this now become the seventh massacre at an American school in two years?
There are a lot of reasons, and a lot of place to spread the blame. Following is a message I sent into the squishy discussion group so that I can jump start what I want to get to:
California and Washington, out of the 10 states involved in shootings since 1992, are the only states that require some sort of police registration for guns. Only Tennessee has a waiting period. None have restrictions on age, permit requirements (carry or own), or licensing or owners.
This leads into my first point. Access to guns. In college, I went camping with some friends from Pennsylvania, all who grew up outside of Pittsburgh. One of the days was spent shooting bottles off of tree branches. A .22, a .45, and some other handgun, plus someone had a rifle. I had never shot a gun before, let along held one in my life before then, but everyone was just passing them around like toys. So we have kids, under 21, who legally can't drink, toting weapons around like fashion accessories all over the country.
Secondly, kids are given way too much leeway by their parents for various reasons. Parents nowadays are sometimes even afraid of their own children. What is wrong with this picture? Kids as little children don't have the cognitive abilities to understand why something was wrong. I can't stand watching a parent explain to a three year old why they shouldn't be hitting that other boy as the kid screams to be let go. And what happens? The parent tires and lets the child go, who promptly goes and hits another boy or girl.
I remember when I was a child, it was a swift reaction. There was a sure and certain consequence to every action. Do I consider a swift smack to the ass child abuse? No. Do I consider a five minute spanking over the knee child abuse? Not if it's punishment commensurate with the crime.
Children are given too much leeway. Parents say "Stop it." The child continues. "Stop or else." The child continues. "Come on, it's time to stop." The child continues. Why? Because they have learned that 'Stop' is not 'Stop.' It means they have another five, ten, fifteen minutes before the parent will even attempt something else, and then the crying starts. This child will most likely grow up to be unrespectful, be unruly, and selfish.
My wife is a teacher, and is able to handle a roomful of kids, as well as the 'trouble makers' that other teachers can't seem to control. Why? Because she has discipline. She states the rules of the class on the first day. If someone gets out of line, they have until the count of three to stop. She has rarely made it to three. If she ever does, instant action is taken, and the child is sent to the dean for punishment.
The same was true when I was a child. My parents didn't stand for anything, and didn't let up. If we were shopping, and one of us three acted up, bang! In the car, home, and to our room. And probably after a good smack to the ass.
This goes for single parents, two working parents, or a home where one parent stays home. Respect for the power of your mother and/or father come out of discipline. A little bit of fear is necessary. Not fear of being spanked, per se, but the fear that your actions will have a consequence, and based upon how bad your action is, you know that the consequence will be comparable.
But now, the government gets involved in all our lives with rules for children. The beginning was the drinking age. Now parents expect government institutions to raise their kids. Why should my wife have to have any discipline problems in her classes at all? Why does she have to make sure children do their homework, or show their failed test grade to their parents? Why do the parents blame the teachers when their child is unruly, or when schools try to punish the child? Or when the child fails, now it's the teacher's fault.
Respect, and a bit of fear, is what drives a child to listen to their parents. This respect is nurtured over the years through tough, uncompromised discipline, from leaving the baby crying in the crib when you know they are sleepy and just want to stay up to stripping a bedroom bare of all amenities, and sending a child there with a sore behind and empty stomach. This respect gets transferred to schools, and to teachers, and any other adult that a child comes in contact with because adults are to be respected.
Why did these kids kill, after meticulously planning the assaults? Aren't better questions why didn't the parents know the child had access to guns? Why didn't the parents know they were making bombs? Why didn't the parents know they belonged to a gang called "Mafia," why didn't the parents know they were racist? The same reason why the same parents couldn't tell you the last science test score their child had, or the name of their English teacher, or what time they got home last Friday night.
Oh, I'm not shifting responsibility away from the kids who did the killing. They just chose not pay attention to the laws. And why should they? Have no concept of reality, if they are forming suicide pacts and killing people. They know the laws, they know what is said to be right from wrong. They just chose to push the limits again. They've gotten away with it before, why not now?
They still hold responsibility for everything they have done. Just because their parents decided to let them get away with everything doesn't mean society should pity them. I don't feel a bad child hood is justification to commit crimes, and I don't think a lack of a moral compass or upbringing is one, either. There are plenty of people who manage on their own to learn what is the right path.
But parents have to take back their children. We need to stop relying on other people to raise them and teach them. Parents are passing the buck on discipline to teachers and then taking away the teacher's true job and forcing them into standardized testing because children aren't learning. Well, boys and girls, why don't we really examine the cause of our children's problems, not the symptoms? Because too often it rests with the people bemoaning the problems - the parents.
I promise you this; my child will be disciplined. My child will be respectful. Why? Because his parents will be raising him. No one else.