Where the Heck are the Parents? [OPINION]
There have been two disturbing stories from local school districts in the news the last couple of days and it seems like every day there is a new instance of a kid, or group of kids, bullying or outright beating on other kids.
The first story came from the ROCORI district, where a 12-year-old boy was allegedly threatened by a group of peers, who told the boy both in person and in a group chat on social media that they would "shoot him in the neck" and watch him bleed. They were hoping to see him 'beg for his life,' and in turn would laugh while he died.
The parent's testimony begins at 23 minutes of the embedded video below:
There is a lot of criticism being levied at the school board's cold response to a very emotional mother essentially begging for some action to be taken over a very serious threat to her child, who she clearly wants to protect. The school board seems pretty content to just let this pass over and move on to the next agenda, hiding behind 'privacy policies' and whatever other nonsense that has been installed to protect them from 'liability' in case they say the 'wrong' thing.
Remember, we can't possibly hurt the perpetrator's feelings, right? We'd hate to offend the parents of the kids who made apparently written and verifiable death threats on social media. But don't worry, there is an 'investigation' happening right now, as we speak.
How many times do you need to read a message clearly written on social media before you take action? When I was a kid and something happened at school the kids AND the parents were called in to figure it out and dish out the appropriate punishment. Does that happen anymore? Or is it all hush-hush behind the scenes let's hope no one hears about this?
While I find the school board and its policies to be callous and cruel, I am placing the blame solely on the parents of the bullies in this situation.
Why are we allowing 12-year-olds to have private, unfiltered social media chats? What kind of morals and ideals are we teaching our kids when their idea of a good time is 'shooting a kid in the neck to watch them bleed out?' What kind of media are they consuming? What kind of example are they following? Can they be fixed at this point, if those are the things that not only cross their mind in passing but instead are things they are seemingly prepared to act upon?
The second story took place at Apollo High School, where an entire group of teens pummeled another kid in the bathroom. When I first saw the headline I thought it was a high school fight between two kids. While I don't support it, any time you have that many kids around each other all year a couple of fights are bound to happen.
However, this was not simply a fight. It was a brutal, planned assault by a group of hyped-up kids apparently intent to beat another kid to death while having a great time doing it. It didn't look like the kid was being 'punished' for any sort of transgression (not that it would be okay AT ALL ANY CASE), it was simply done as a blood sport by a group of people with no fear of consequences.
I got into plenty of trouble when I was in school. Sure, I never threatened to kill anyone or joined a group of people to beat a kid half to death. But I did run my mouth and I got my share of detentions and calls to the principal's office.
The real punishment, however, came when I got home. I could handle a couple of hours with Ms. Ryan in detention hall, no problem. Dealing with my dad, however was a different story.
My behavior was not acceptable and I was very much made aware of this fact by my dad. I was made accountable for each of my transgressions and was punished accordingly. Does that happen today?
My kid is four years old and I am terrified about the world he is going to grow up in. Our morals are being compromised everywhere we look by social media, the actual media and its fear-mongering and celebrities doing seemingly everything but being solid role models for kids.
It's up to us parents to not only raise our kids to be decent people but also to make sure that they aren't falling victim to influences BEFORE they are out of a parent's control. Parents simply need to be more involved in what their kids are doing online. It's not 1950 anymore, with parents going through their kids sock drawers to snoop.
Keeping up with your kid's behavior online (especially middle school kids) is not only essential these days, it might just save your kid's (or another kid's) life. We are parents, not friends, and only WE can stop the cycle.