Archive for November, 2009

Is our Society Creating Monsters

November 2, 2009

Are we as a society so busy trying to make our children feel good about themselves that we’re creating monsters?  Last week during a school dance ten or more young men raped and brutalized a 15 year old girl for more than two hours while another dozen or so people watched.  The blame for this brutality is being spread pretty thin.  The school is to blame for not monitoring outside of the dance area.  “Gang mentality” caused these young men to rape and beat this young girl and allowed the others to watch.  Even the young girl herself is to blame since she should not have been there (outside the dance) in the first place.  I am sick of the excuses!  The school didn’t force any of those young men to pull down their pants and rape that girl.  The first guy who attacked her didn’t push the next guy on top of her.  Finally, the kids who stood and watched were not bound by any barriers that stopped them from going for help, or even simply leaving.  No, the blame lies squarely with the young men who attacked this girl and their friends who watched and let it happen.  Unfortunately, we live in a society that is raising our kids to believe that the best defense IS an excuse.

A 7th grader refuses to do anything the teacher asks the class to do.  He won’t open a book, take out a piece of paper, or even fill out a test.  The child’s father calls up the teacher and blames her for not being a good enough teacher.

During a math class, a teacher catches a 12 year old writing a rap song instead of following the instructions given.  The child gets reprimanded and later is heard saying he’d like to stick (stab) the teacher.  The child’s mother is mad because the teacher stifled her child’s creativity.

A child who does poorly in school is almost automatically assumed to have something wrong.  It can’t possibly be because the child is simply not motivated to do the work.  No, it’s not the child’s fault, it’s some outside force.  ADD and ADHD is apparently so prevalent now that I’m surprised the human race is still around.

We don’t punish our children when they do something wrong any more.  Instead, we use positive and negative reinforcement.  What is negative reinforcement.  Typically it is removing the child from the situation that is causing the problem.  We put them in time out as young children.  We suspend them from school as young people.  Do the consequences fit the situation.  I don’t know, but I do know that repeated suspensions at the middle school level is common and doesn’t seem to have any long term effects.  Am I advocating school spanking.  Actually, I’m afraid I am.  It’s not what I want, but the child who gets ISS (In School Suspension) still saunters around the school.  The tough guy who is seen crying isn’t nearly as cool. 

Well, what about positive reinforcement.  If a child does something good, they’re rewarded which makes them continue to do good.  But what about the young child who isn’t so good?  The ones who don’t work for their reward?  Hey, they’re rewarded too.  Think about little leagues.  There are no winners and losers.  Everyone gets a trophy at the end of the season no matter how much effort they put into the game.  We want our kids to feel good about themselves no matter what.  At birthday parties games may be played, but everyone gets a prize whether they’ve earned it or not.  The kid who throws a fit gets the same party favor as the one who behaves the best. 

Two of the most popular children’s shows today are adding to this same mentality.  They tell our children that they are perfect just the way they are.  That they are loved no matter what.  Well, a parent may have to feel that way but the rest of us do not.  No one is perfect and everyone has to earn love and respect.  We can’t keep telling our children that no matter who they are and what they do, they deserve a reward.  The young child who fails at something should learn from the failure not be excused from it.  The kid who screws up should pay for the screw up and learn about consequences. 

I’m not saying that the young men who raped and brutalized the 15 year old girl did so because of Barney the Purple dinosaur.  What I am saying is that we are raising kids in this society who believe that feeling good about themselves, and being happy is their God given right, no matter what they do.  If they mess up, it’s not really their fault.  As a society we might be able to get away with this in the very young child but what about the young adult those children become?