Gut Rumbles
 

March 29, 2008

Changing times

Originally published April 30, 2003

I received another email from Smiling Dave today that echoed something that has puzzled me for a while now. He wrote:

"One of our guys showed up about a half hour late to work today. As he was about to depart his home, he spotted some trouble on his block. A twelve year old boy had poured something flammable on his nine year old sister and set her on fire.

Our guy got over there quickly, grabbed the girl, and smothered the flames. She had only minor burns (none disfiguring); but was badly frightened). It took the guy a little while to get the child to her mother and to explain what had happened, so he was late coming in. (No problem. We are not clock watchers here.)

He was talking about it to a few of us, and somebody made a comment about the vicious little shit who did the deed. The guy said, "Aw hell. Don't you remember when you were twelve?" He said it in such a matter of fact and accepting way that it sent a chill through me. What's worse, the other guys present seemed to find his comment unremarkable. It got me to wondering what the hell has been done to us that a homicidal juvenile doesn't even upset us much? When did we all stop protecting children and decide that they'd just have to take their chances, when it comes to living long enough to reach adulthood? And why aren't pint-sized monsters like today's detected early and put where they can't do any more damage?"

I see it this way, Dave: A society GETS MORE of the lowest kind of behavior it is willing to TOLERATE.

Too many parents want to be their child's "friend" instead of a mentor and a disciplinarian. Schools teach "self-esteem" whether the kid deserves any or not. We have bureaucratic minions of the State ready to prosecute a parent as a "child abuser" for taking a belt to a well-deserving rump. Outraged lawyers sue when Little Johnny is called a "pint-sized monster," even if he IS one.

We accept unacceptable behavior today because we are taught not to be "judgmental" in a thousand insidious ways. As a result, we generate more and more unacceptable behavior because WE ACCEPT IT, rather than be judgmental.

Yeah, I remember when I was twelve. By then, I had experienced a rich multitude of butt-whippins from both my mother and my father, who used whatever weapon was handy at the time, when they believed that I strayed from the path they expected me to walk. They steered me back on course with blows to my young ass. I had judgmental parents. They had rules.

They were cheered and respected by other parents, too, as well as teachers and principals. If I screwed up in school, the teachers didn't have to discipline me. All they had to do was CALL MY PARENTS. They would handle the problem from there. My parents did not accept unacceptable behavior. As a result, I grew up flying right. About the biggest trouble I ever got into in my youth was a couple of fights on the school bus.

Very few people raise their children that way anymore. The parents aren't judgmental and they don't make rules. They let the kids make the rules.

That's why you have a 12 year-old setting his sister on fire. I'll bet he gets a real, loving discussion about how wrong it is to "act out" as a result, too, and then some anger-management classes.

That'll teach him.

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