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One Reporter's Opinion: They're Not Just 'Playing House'

Friday, 20 June 2003 12:00 AM

It is this reporter's opinion that the recent tragic incident in a small area of Ohio emphasizes that too many of our youth are headed to hell in a handbasket.

An appalling May Day ritual for teens known as "Beat Up a White Kid Day" resulted in a group of otherwise well-behaved youngsters preying upon a young Caucasian girl. It was reported that they took turns choking, kicking, beating and stomping on the helpless little girl.

They didn't say why or offer an excuse for their actions; they just proceeded to beat her and she ended up in the hospital.

We were horrified to hear that the supervisor of the juvenile justice unit for the county prosecutor's office stated that there is evidence that the beating was motivated by race, and that the victim in now under medical care, suffering blackouts due to the assault ... but even more disappointed to find that the penalty for such behavior was so light.

It doesn't take a psychiatrist, a psychologist or a parent improvement group to try to understand these actions. The question to be asked is "Where are the parents who have raised or set a course for kids guilty of such criminality?"

Take another look, America, at the kinds of children we are raising – and the children who are raising children – because therein lies the root of our problem.

We rush them from the cradle to premature adulthood with little time for growth or development in between. Too few parents have understood and learned the great responsibility of parenthood as they themselves are having babies. Mere children are allowed to make their way with no knowledge of family responsibilities and no understanding of right and wrong and the consequences of their actions.

Many have yet to even realize that each individual is responsible for his/her own actions; they instead play the blame game and make excuses. And when our kids go astray, the parent is always there to excuse their bad behavior and to eliminate or buffer the dire consequences. "After all, they're just children," they say.

And thus, the pattern of abuse follows. The more bad behavior we excuse, the more it becomes the norm.

I understand that even after the horrible, vicious attack on this little girl, the authorities are trying to decide on the consequences, the punishment, if you will. The argument is that they're too young to go to jail. So instead, they want to "punish" them with "community service."

And what about the recent hazing incident in Northbrook, Ill.? Dozens of girls were brutally hazed in the affluent Chicago suburb last month. Thirty-one seniors were expelled and 20 juniors were suspended from Glenbrook North High School in recent weeks after videotapes surfaced showing senior girls beating junior girls and showering them in filth while other students watched.

What were they thinking?? Where did they get the idea??

The hazing incident was atrocious enough, but what was even more unbelievable were the lawsuits filed by some students in hopes of overturning their expulsions and suspensions! Our youth are being taught that there is an easy way out of everything through our legal system, which is in itself becoming more and more lenient.

Many of the seniors involved in the hazing signed agreements stipulating that they complete community service and counseling and barring them from exploiting the incident with a book or movie deal. The deal enabled them to receive their diplomas, but they were not allowed to attend the graduation ceremony.

A book or a movie deal?? I would think that would not even cross the mind of a decent human being.

Tragically, what we have witnessed here is an example of what all too frequently is happening across America - children out of control being raised by children who have never learned to control themselves. It spells disaster for a nation already in peril.

We're driven by the media, which are more and more permissive and graphic. Bad behavior is rewarded and not punished, and children are encouraged to be their own persons too early in life. They are allowed to act and dress in a promiscuous manner, they are given the right to watch R-rated movies long before their 17th birthdays, they are allowed to stay out late, skip homework and school projects, and are given free rein to surf the Internet at their leisure.

It's no wonder young people are getting the idea that these kinds of behavior are OK.

Gone are the days of sock hops, holding hands, chaperones and cherry cola! Now it's see-through revealing clothing, piercings, thongs, "booty dancing" and Internet porn! How could we have let this happen?

The emphasis should be on raising children. We teach our people everything under the sun except how to be a parent. Every individual who would consider bringing another person into this world should realize the children are our future.

It is time to hold the parents responsible for allowing their children to run amok. Whatever the penalty is in this case should be meted out to both parent and child.

The youth of today are not just "playing house." This is reality and not a dress rehearsal. It's time we realize just how much our children's lives are in jeopardy and work harder to be better examples for them.



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The legendary George Putnam is 88 years young and a veteran of 68 years as a reporter, broadcaster and commentator ... and is still going strong. George is part of the all-star line-up of Southern California's KPLS Radio – Hot Talk AM 830.

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It is this reporter's opinion that the recent tragic incident in a small area of Ohio emphasizes that too many of our youth are headed to hell in a handbasket. An appalling May Day ritual for teens known as "Beat Up a White Kid Day" resulted in a group of otherwise...
Friday, 20 June 2003 12:00 AM
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