Wimps or Warriors–What are we doing to children?

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet.  Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.” ~ Helen Keller

I am not a parent.  I don’t know if I want to become a parent for fear that I would be arrested for raising my child in a way that would build character.  I am becoming increasingly outraged and disturbed by some of the cases I see in the media spotlight and in court. 

I just read an article from my home state of Georgia where a father was arrested for child cruelty for making his sixteen year old son walk three miles carrying a landscaping rock.  The article states there is a police video that shows the child in the background carrying a rock during an unrelated traffic stop.  Obviously the officer didn’t stop and speak with the child because there isn’t anything wrong with a sixteen year old carrying a rock.  Maybe they thought the weight of the rock make a difference; however, the weight is essentially the same weight as most backpacks with school books.  When the father was questioned about the punishment he said that’s how he was disciplined in the military and he didn’t think it would be a problem.  I completely agree with the father.  It shouldn’t have been a problem.  The boy needed to learn there are consequences for his failure to complete his chores and homework.  Now he is learning that he can just complain and get a free ride instead of completing the tasks he’s supposed to do.  This is a terrible lesson to teach the kid and I can’t believe that the authorities think this is illegal. 

Years ago I worked on a case where the parents were arrested for aggravated child abuse for allegedly not feeding their son, locking him in his room, and stripping his bedroom of everything except the mattress and a lamp.  The child was extremely smart and knew how to manipulate the system.  During a deposition, one of the social workers said they started to investigate the parents because the child said he did not have any toys in his room.  Why is that a problem?  Since when are children required to have toys?  The child was having behavior problems both at school and at home.  A counselor advised the parents to take the toys away from the child and make him earn them back with good behavior.  What’s wrong with that?  Children should learn that things will not be automatically given to you unless you earn them.  I didn’t see the lack of toys as a problem but I learned I am in the minority. 

I can’t tell you the number of cases where juveniles are arrested on battery charges for fights in school.  I got into a fight when I was in middle school.  I lost the fight but I didn’t start it.  I was defending myself from another girl who kept pushing me as I walked down the hallway.  I kept warning her to leave me alone.  After the third push and third warning, I turned and punched her in the face.  Some of my friends broke up the fight.  I didn’t get arrested and the other girl didn’t either.  We were friends again the next day.  Teenagers fight for various reasons, and unless someone is seriously hurt I don’t agree with arrests.  Suspend the kids from school.  Make them do community service hours.  Don’t ruin their lives by arresting them and treating them like criminals.  That day I learned to stand up for myself but I also learned to forgive someone who I felt had wronged me.  Those were very valuable lessons to learn and I’m glad I could have that experience without starting a criminal rap sheet. 

By constantly involving criminal agencies into normal behaviors of children and parents, we are raising children who aren’t learning valuable lessons and aren’t developing character to be good upstanding adults.  We are also telling adults to be cautious in parenting children because if someone disagrees with what you are doing, you will be arrested without being given an opportunity to fully explain your reasoning.  Maybe the actions of these parents and children were wrong, but did they need to be classified as criminals for their mistakes?  I say no!Image


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