I knew that the direction of our youth had taken a wrong turn when I read a story out of Texas about 4 bored teen girls, who decided to pass the time by robbing convenience stores at gun point a few years ago. I dismissed the news story as simply spoiled youth that watched too much television and had too much time on their hands. Over the years I have read some outrageous news stories involving teen crime and several news reports this month has me thinking that the problem is way larger than ever imagined. The first story was out of Gwinnett County Georgia where a 14 year old boy was shot for his shoe collection and the shoes on his feet at the time of his murder. Today a 15 year old and 18 year old are charged with the plot. I recall similar news stories in the past, but I thought the instances were rare and separated. Turns out a simple Google search will tell you that three teens were killed last year in separate incidents over expensive shoes. I’m not writing this to tell you not to purchase the ridiculously over-priced footwear. But I will state for the record, if parents stopped purchasing them in the name of safety for their children; in a perfect world, the makers would be forced to drop the price so that everyone could afford a pair, and no loss of life would be necessary.
The second news story, with a slightly familiar plot, is out of South Carolina where a 15 year old boy is accused of hiring two of his friends to murder his strict grandparents to the tune of $5,000. I don’t want to even ask how this spoiled brat could get his hands on $5,000 but I’m going to go out on limb here and say that his lack of respect and value for human life might have something to do with his ability to easily access large sums of cash. Teen rebellion is inevitable, but the evolution of teen rebellion is astonishing. How did we as a society grow such a beast? And where is the mind frame of children when something as sinister as taking a life can be plotted and executed as easily as meeting their friends in the park for a game of basketball. It has been suggested that movies and media have exposed our children to so much violence that they have become desensitized to reality. If you ask a child murder why they committed their crime, their reasoning and spatial skills will come nowhere near to making a connection. This leads me to wonder if turning off the television is really the answer or if there are life-lessons that parents are failing to teach their children.
The last story that forced my hand in writing about this dismal subject came out of Washington State where two 5th graders were arrested for plotting the death of fellow classmates. When I was in 5th grade, I found myself in a new school where NONE of the kids liked me. I spent several days in the back of the classroom working on a “project” that would become the talk of the teacher’s lounge, force me to make a public apology to my classmates, and get me suspended for three days. The project? I neatly wrote every name of all my classmates and under each name I wrote a derogatory paragraph explaining why I disliked each of them. The list by its end was nearly 8 notebook pages long, and although I was in a lot of trouble for the things that I wrote, I couldn’t help but get the feeling from my teacher that she was slightly impressed with my work. She kept it in her desk drawer for the remainder of the year. I would occasionally ask to borrow her pencil sharpener kept in the same drawer just to glimpse it and make sure it was still there. The writer in me wanted it back because I was not finished. But I never mustered the courage to ask for it. The fuss over the list amazed me. I had no idea that such a big deal would be made of my opinion of my classmates. I can’t imagine their reaction if the list had been a detailed murder plot. The headline about the two 5th graders reminded me about this time in my life, because at first, I just thought it might be a case of bullied kids venting on paper. But the details of the plot, made my blood run cold. One boy was to secure a knife from home, while the other boy obtained a firearm from his brother’s room. The plan was to take the weapons to school, lure a little girl out to the woods and stab her. The gun was to keep anyone from stopping their plan. We can’t pin this one on video games. I find that when kids see something they don’t understand, they accept the closest plausible explanation to them, and many times come to their own understanding that much of the time is distorted due to their lack of developmental and reasoning skills. As parents, we can limit what our children are exposed to, but can’t filter it all. Things get past us every day. The best defense is excessive education. All those annoying questions? Answer them. You may never know what’s churning through your kids head without answering them. Every now and then, one of them will be your chance to shape your child’s future. Also, remain firm and consistent with kids. Repetitive actions teach them routine and pattern. If your child believes that she can reverse your final decision it leads to the impression that rules are optional. There has to come a time where we stop blaming the entertainment industry for ruining our kids, and point a finger at the person in the mirror for putting the entertainment industry in the hands of our kids without proper instruction. You wouldn’t give your kid a chainsaw without teaching him how to use it would you? The mother of the Georgia teen killed for his shoes was asked if she felt sorry for the parents of the accused. Her response, ““I’m not going to say that I feel bad for those parents. I’m not, because I feel bad for me. These parents are the ones raising these types of children. They’re raising them”. With all due respect Ms. Stone, the problem is, they aren’t raising them real.
Read Stories Here: