Yesterday, a senseless tragedy occurred. A student at Chardon High School walked into the cafeteria and opened fire. Five students were injured, with two later succumbing to their injuries. The suspect has been identified and he will now move through the legal and judicial process.
Chardon is a small town (population approximately 5,000), like many other small towns. It’s also about 3 hours away from me. I sit here and imagine what those kids experienced- the absolute terror and horror. The fear that they couldn’t get away. That they’d be killed too. And all they had planned to do that morning was eat their breakfast and go to class.
There are numerous reports from the media saying the kid was a loner and a bully. We don’t really know what the motivation was. We may never know.
But, I’m seeing some very disturbing trends/behaviors in our society. Do I think these make a difference in how kids behave and relate to others? Yes, I do. I’m not a psychologist, nor a psychiatrist. What I am is a person who works with the public all the time. I’m also a parent. I see a lot.
Here’s my take on what’s wrong with society today:
Our kids are becoming isolated from the world. At the worst extreme they’re losing their humanity.
Facebook, Twitter, online gaming, etc. is all great. But instead of human, tactile interaction, it’s all done via the computer. There is little human interaction. Little opportunity to develop appropriate social skills or coping skills. This lack of actual contact with people has also had another chilling effect- kids feel pretty safe saying stuff online they would never say in person. No filters, no accountability. It’s an illusion. And a dangerous one.
And about that accountability. There ain’t any.
We’re following after our kids, cleaning up their messes (both literal and figurative). We say, “Oh, that’s OK, we’ll teach them a lesson some other day.” “They’ve had a hard life, we need to make it easy for them.” GET. OVER. IT.
If we don’t teach kids that they’re responsible for their actions and they must pay the consequences, what do you think the result will be? My folks were tough. If I screwed up, I had to fix it. If I did wrong, I had to make it right. Because if I didn’t, there was hell to pay.
And as for consequences- what ever happened to those?
Corporal punishment has all but disappeared from the schools and at home. Pity. Where’s the incentive to behave? I can guarantee that no one at my school wanted to get the paddle. And when they did, we could hear it all the way down the hall. And my parents also sweetened the deal by adding, “Whatever you get at school, you’ll get 10 times at home.”
Don’t get me wrong- there is a line between discipline and abuse. I’m not talking about beating the child into a bloody pulp or locking him/her in a closet without food & water. I’m talking about teaching them that there are consequences for their actions.
My parents whipped my behind. I even got smacked across the face when I backtalked. I bet you dimes to doughnuts I didn’t do it again. And I guarantee you that I grew up just fine. None of this “But you’ll hurt her self-esteem.” or “You’ll damage her self-worth.” Again, total B.S.
To borrow a phrase from a colleague- here’s the rub:
The buck stops here. It stops with those responsible for the children., be it parents, grandparents or guardians. It’s YOUR job to teach your kids right and wrong. How to interact with others in society.
It’s NOT the school’s job. NOT the court’s job. It’s YOUR job. YOU need to spend time with your kids. YOU need to educate them. NO excuses allowed. EVER.
Fire back at me- I’d love to hear your thoughts. You can agree or disagree, that’s fine. My intent is to get a dialogue going because these types of tragedies do NOT have to happen.
My thoughts and prayers are with the town of Chardon.