Shooting kids in a barrel

student_weapons_da_300.jpgInvariably after getting married come the flood of questions about children; “when will you have kids?” or “how many will you have”. A couple of days ago I was discussing this with co-workers and wondered why anyone would choose to have kids in this day in age with little way to keep them safe. You can do a great job raising intelligent, unselfish, self-aware children only to see the damage done by their peers. The threats seem to increase in volume and in seriousness with each passing year. The bullies don’t just beat them up after school, they create blogs, and post videos on YouTube, and trash them on Myspace; the bullied retaliate in kind. And in some rare cases they go much farther than we could when I was a kid.

I’m sure you’ve all read about the 14 year-old kid and his arsenal of guns. 14 year old kids aren’t renown for their impulse control so the number of guns this 14 year old had immediate access to is sobering. This comes one day after a 14 year old in Cleveland killed himself after shooting four people.

I want to blame the parents for this. Not the parents of this kid (although there’s a ton a blame there). I want to blame the other parents. On whole, today’s generation of children are uninformed, selfish, and unintelligent. It’s a combination that might make you President, but not a good person. Parents have created monsters and don’t know this because of either ignorance or a lack of caring. Most of them don’t worry as long as their kids are on top – no matter how they get there. Is it no surprise that the cheating in school, in sports, in society is at an all-time high? When I was a kid, if you found out your child was a bully, you were ashamed – now it’s “better you than him”.

You wonder if you can send your kids to good schools, but Plymouth Whitemarsh is a good school. (I guess the poor get shot on their way to school, the rich get shot in school). How in the world do you keep your children away from this element? And if you can’t, how does a parent live with it?

Mind you, I don’t want the parents of this child to go unnoticed. The mother bought and gave guns to her son. The guns were in plain sight. The NRA will say we don’t need new gun laws, to enforce the ones we have, but these guns were legally purchased and once in the house, what’s the police to do. How can anyone not see a problem with the system here?

In the book Children of Men, the world suffers from mass infertility. With this, there is a selfishness that grows because people can only live for themselves – there’s no future in the world, no children to instruct and pass wisdom to. It’s as if we’ve created a similar world in reality. No mass infertility, but no future either.

I’d love to hear from parents on this.

  • http://www.cynicsgirl.blogspot.com/ Cyn

    You make some excellent points, Spencer. But to a certain extent, if one dwells on all the negatives in the world one would never leave the house (Oh…like me…) (Hmmmm….)

    I think there are any number of extremely valid reasons to forego parenthood, but don’t really see the f*cked-up-ness of society as the main one. Because if intelligent/rational/open-minded folks don’t pass on their genes and wisdom, we’re really doomed.

    That said, my 11-year-old was pretty much begging for a cell phone last night. Because “everyone in my class has one.” (She just started middle school – 6th grade.) That argument doesn’t fly with us — there’s no practical need for her to have a cell phone at this point. But then she feels bad because a new friend wants her cell phone number…and I worry that we will screw up her chances to make friends. It’s a constant anti-materialism battle for us. Luckily, we can’t afford to spoil our kids. (Monetarily, and figuratively we can’t afford it, I suppose.)

    As a parent, I think this may be the first generation where we have survey after survey and psychologist after psychologist instructing us on the proper way to raise our children. Basically, parents are taught to use persuasion to guide their children to the proper choices and appropriate behavior. Without damaging their self-esteem, of course. And it’s a complicated process that requires thought and subtle manipulation (okay, I’ll admit I like the manipulation – mind control is fun!) on the parents’ part as opposed to the spankings inflicted to control/teach/damage children of my generation.

    But only the future will show if we are raising better-adjusted humans, or just kids who are ill-prepared for the harsh realities of adulthood, where people don’t always play fair.

    Oh, and I’m sure there’s still a lot of parents who discipline with the rod. Maybe making it harder for those of us who don’t.

    And I think there is validity to the theory that some parents cave to their kids’ demands because they feel guilty for not being available…and because it is easier to say “yes” than to say “no.”

    The schools (at least our district) do try to teach kids coping skills that we never ever had when I was in school. When my daughter (of cell-phone-desiring-fame) was being teased by some boys on her bus (when she was in 4th grade) she went to her school’s guidance counselor – on her own. And the boys (who probably didn’t realize how sensitive my daughter is, and weren’t necessarily “bullies”) sat down with the counselor and my daughter (all without parental involvement, I might add) and the situation was resolved with no further ramifications.

    On the other hand, our school district is the one that got national attention after my kids’ school showed a video to the 3rd graders that dared to tell them that some families might have 2 moms or 2 dads. (As in gay/lesbian.) After a dog and pony show (they put together a review committee, but did not follow its recommendation) the school district caved to parental narrow-mindedness and pulled the video from future classes. I’m still extremely pissed about this, and perhaps it’s off the point, but just the fact that the school surveyed parents (I think just the parents of the class that was in 3rd grade last year, because nobody asked us) and about 50% were against showing this video…well, my idealism was slapped in the face by this attitude.

    And it’s just indicative of a larger problem — maybe the same mechanism that infuses a “me against them” attitude leads to (in extreme cases) kids wanting to shoot their problems away.

    Well, Spencer, I don’t know if I’ve even addressed your issue properly. Except to say that we as parents just try to do the best we can…and cross our fingers that nothing goes wrong.

    And we worry. A lot.

  • http://www.ladylike4.com Jennifer

    I think this is more less always been happening. There has always been the bad kids versus the good kids. Kids are all generally good and it is our perception of kids that changes as we get older. Do you know any adult besides me that doesn’t say… “Oh no look at those kids” all the way from 100 year olds speaking of their 70 year old children to 30 year olds with there 10 year olds. It is just a fact and something that is done.

    I think that the news and media have changed as well and now it is a lot less work to get those raw stories that can make the world look like a very violent place.

  • Spencer

    Jen – When I was in high school 20 some years ago – there weren’t worries of teens toting guns, grenades, etc. to school. Yes there were guns – I went to a high school right in the middle of North Philadelphia, to date the most violent section, of the most violent city in this country – so it’s something I’ve always been aware of.

    Just saying “old-heads always think the kids are out of control” is part of the problem. Remember, most of my quarrel in this post is with the parents who aren’t aware of what their kids are or do. Parents work more. There are more single parent households. Parents don’t understand the technology their kids have at hand. Kids have more money then they did in previous years.

    Yes the media is ridiculous in it’s quest for ratings, and over inflates the risk, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t risks. As intelligent people we need to still pay attention and adjust. Your comment seems to state “there’s nothing to worry about”.

  • Spencer

    I agree with you Cyn, I think it’s all a matter of how devoted you are to the idea of children. I try not to allow myself to be dictated to by fear, but if what you’re forgoing isn’t you’re #1 desire, it makes it easier to dismiss the desire all together.

    I’m sure that I wouldn’t raise knuckleheads – and to a certain degree I think we need more smart, intelligent people raising children, but sometimes it just seems that the knuckleheads have us outnumbered. They count the President as one of their ranks!

  • http://cynicsgirl.blogspot.com Cyn

    Oh, I personally consider myself a knucklehead (as demonstrated when I leave gi-normously long rambling comments on someone’s blog) so I believe the proper designation for the President is “idiot.”

  • Spencer

    Excellent point – I’m rather a knucklehead too.