Jewish World Review June 14, 1999 /30 Sivan 5759
Here's one of millions of such examples coast-to-coast. In Florida, a teen-age boy was transferred from his neighborhood school to an out-of-area school as a special favor. It seems that some boy was allegedly stalking him in his hometown school. You'd think that having been frightened and terrorized by the behavior of another would have sensitized him to the impact of one child's behavior on others. No such luck here.
His newfound "safe" school has a dress code. Principals are given discretion on student clothing deemed "extreme to the point of creating a disturbance."
This is probably one element of authority that helps make this school safe. This boy was one of two students given a one-day suspension after officials said the boys refused to remove their black trench coats, similar to the coats worn two days earlier by the teen-age gunmen in a massacre at Columbine High School.
Florida Today reported that the boy was asked to remove the black trench coat for his own good --- to avoid possible retaliation by students. "He was asked to remove the coat for his personal safety. But rather than doing what the principal asked, he was willfully defiant," according to the newspaper.
Following the suspension, the family was told that their boy would not be able to return to this school, but that he would have to find yet another out-of-area school. The parents, of course, did not respond by questioning why they let their darling even own a black trench coat, much less wear it to school so close to the Columbine massacre. The parents, of course, did not support the school's efforts to maintain discipline, decorum and safety. The parents, of course, did not explain to their son that unconditional love stopped when he was about 7 or 8 years old --- and now, even from them, he'd have to earn love by respectful, decent, moral behavior. The parents, of course, did not teach their child that he wasn't the center of the universe --- and that other people matter.
No, of course not. The parents have hired an attorney to try to force the school to take back a kid who clearly feels empowered by insensitive, disrespectful and defiant behavior. Every day they take him back to the school, and every day he is escorted back out the door after first period.
The parents would be far better parents if they taught their son that there are consequences -- sometimes severe consequences -- for certain behaviors. An inappropriate, nasty, self-indulgent, arrogant attitude toward proper authority is one of those behaviors. Instead, they are teaching him that almost anything he does is excusable.
I wonder if their reaction would have been the same toward him had he not been their son, but rather a boy who scared their daughter by his antics in school and his defiance against authority. I wonder if their reaction would have been the same toward him had other children beat him up, thinking he was yet another "trench coat mafia" member. Perhaps then they'd see the stupidity of his actions and rue his not obeying a direct order from a school official who has only his best interest in mind.
I personally applaud the school for taking such action. It's about time that some institution upheld standards and consequences. Our children are getting more and more out of hand, misusing the concept of freedom to excuse any and all bad, immoral, vicious or dangerous behaviors. Accountability is the most powerful teaching tool in raising decent adults with a sense of responsibility, respect and self-discipline. This constant indulgence of our children out of guilt (broken marriage, out-of-wedlock births, two-career parents, checkered parental pasts) is producing narcissistic children for whom self-esteem is more important than their esteem of others, authority or values.
"People shake their heads in wonder whenever there is tragedy involving youth and violence," wrote one of my listeners. "I only hope that the law will pass making the parents accountable for their children's minor and major crimes." Perhaps then parents will be more concerned about judging their children's behaviors and responding with more appropriate actions than calling an attorney and screaming about "rights."
Better the community should scream
06/07/99: 'It's Elementary' doesn't teach tolerance