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Parents and children must take responsiblity

A year later, the pundits and the press have long since gone onto other things. But the youthful rage and disregard that led to the barbarous spectacle of Columbine High School still festers.

Violence in our youth is not just some national crisis de jour. It is a very real problem right here. And it’s a problem that can solved here.

“If I had the answer to youth violence, I’d be telling the world,” said



Superior Court Judge Suzanne Kingsbury. “I wish I did.”

Acts of violence, particularly those committed with such disregard for the victim, are always shocking to those who have values and principles. That’s because we usually learn as toddlers that hurting someone or something is bad.




That’s presuming, of course, a parent is there to teach the lesson.

Increasingly, parenting is done by proxy.

Unfortunately, Lake Tahoe is a difficult place to make a living. The wages are low, the hours are difficult. It’s hard enough for two parents to support a household and almost impossible for one.

What has to change is the level of control we as parents have over our children’s activities, decisions and experiences. It’s not up to day care, the schools, the courts, or even grandparents, to be responsible. Parents should be held accountable for their children, not the victims of some unfortunate

event called childbirth.

We are allowing our children to grow up in a world of pulsating images television, computer, Game Boy. While none of these are inherently bad, they rob children of the opportunity to use their imaginations. Everything is force-fed to them through vision. They have been to the top of Mount Everest. They have wrestled alligators in the Everglades. They have shot up

a troop of space invaders.

They have been there and done that … all without getting up from the sofa.

And that’s the entertaining part of their day.

The rest is the drone of school a jumble of lectures and lesson plans. We teach our children the same things we were taught. We insist they learn in much the same way we learned. Yet how many of us can really remember what we now expect our children to regurgitate?

This is not the failing of educators, but the failing of us as parents and citizens to change the way schools teach and what schools teach. We have dropped so many vital classes like music, art and creative writing, insisting instead on a rigid core curriculum around which the education

system creates its benchmark. We no longer teach trades or have trade schools. We no longer foster excellence in academics by really holding kids accountable for their grades. We fall behind so many other countries in computer training or languages.

But the real solution to youth violence is to hold kids accountable for themselves. The sooner children understand that they are responsible for themselves and their actions, the better the chance those kids have of thriving in this world, not just surviving. Shielding children from themselves and their actions will result in adults who take no responsibility.

One of the things people who work with criminals say is how few ever acknowledge their actions. “It wasn’t my fault” is often the first words out of their mouths.

Judge Kingsbury said that there is a way that she can tell if a criminal can be helped and that’s if he or she says that he or she is responsible, maybe even apologizes. But that’s not the norm.

“What happened to personal accountability?” said Judge Kingsbury.

Personal accountability, from the man in the Oval Office who still won’t say he was wrong about a certain intern to the kid who won’t admit he stole a candy bar, seems to be a dying virtue.

But it is the first step to regaining a sense of pride and responsibility.

Holding ourselves accountable for our children is the first step in regaining our community pride.


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