Little Bullies, Big Problem: Karen Klein Case Highlights Moral Malformation of our Youth
Our kids are not learning what it means to love their neighbor, what it means to love, period. Whose fault is that?
What happened to Karen Klein should be seen as an indicator of the emptiness of moral character that is spreading among children like a lethal virus. Far from just a bad moment in time, it reveals a real decay in personal fibre and humanity. The bad news is, these are kids. The blame for their moral malformation and subsequent terrible behavior can be laid squarely at our feet -- the grown-ups. The good news is, these are kids. There is hope for them. The "mold" isn't totally set yet and there is time to try to recast them. Only if we are honest enough to connect the dots and admit that the ugly picture is our own doing.
The bullying of Karen Klein reflects a deeper malady
Once we've reminded everyone how to connect the dots, we need to put it in reverse. People need to see that the problem they're dealing with today can be traced back, choice by choice, action by action, to something they did (or didn't do) years ago. Something they've repeatedly done or haven't done, day after day ever since.
This is the blessing and the cost of freedom. Our choices and actions are ours and so is the responsibility. Yet we're not in it all alone. The blessings of wise decisions and meritorious actions are often shared by those around us. Likewise, the consequences of bad choices and immoral actions are suffered by everyone around us as well. Here comes the theme again: our lives are connected.
For instance, we're all feeling the pain of widespread, bad parenting and indifference to discipline and morality. Exhibit A: the middle school kids who gleefully tormented 68 year-old Karen Klein on their schoolbus. Klein works as a school bus monitor in upstate New York and last week she was subjected to the heartless cruelty of a group of kids who thought their escapade so funny that one of them videotaped the whole thing and put it on YouTube. On Friday, June 29, 2012, after the nationwide outcry, the four seventh graders were suspended from school for one year.
What happened to Karen Klein should be seen as an indicator of the emptiness of moral character that is spreading among children like a lethal virus. Far from just a bad moment in time, it reveals a real decay in personal fibre and humanity. Those kids are our future, God help us.
So what has happened to those kids? The school says they are investigating. So far, it seems no disciplinary action has been taken. Ironically, some of the bullies became targets themselves of some angry residents in their community, forcing local police to expend time and resources protecting them. Nice how that works, isn't it? They commit a shameful act of cruelty and abuse, no one stops them or disciplines them, but then when other people get angry and threaten them, they get all kinds of police protection. Makes them seem like the victim. (Too bad no one cared enough to protect Mrs. Klein.)
With crystal clarity let me say there can be no condoning the threats against the kids. Violence toward these young bullies only perpetuates the evil. They do not "deserve" to be harmed, nor do their families "deserve" death threats. They are children -- badly behaved, poorly formed children -- in dire need of having to endure some serious disciplinary consequences for their actions.
For starters, every single one of the kids involved should be expelled from school immediately. Since it was the end of the year, they should be expelled for the upcoming school year. Their behavior was atrocious and until they learn differently they're not fit for public school. Next, the principal and their parents should get together and find a suitable service project to which the kids would devote at least 500 hours of their time over the next year. Serving the elderly and disabled should be the central theme. Physical labor should be required. (If any of this inconveniences Mom and Dad, too bad.)
That would be a good start. But only a start. Back up several dots -- the real problem goes much deeper. Mere punishment will not effect the change these kids desperately need. Neither will all the dollars and hype being poured into anti-bullying programs. It's not social malformation we have to correct but moral malformation.
They seem to lack any ability to have empathy for another person, or any ability to show compassion and kindness. They lack any sense of right and wrong. They lack even a smidgen of control over their negative impulses. They took delight in being cruel and such a tendency cannot be minimized. With due respect to the father of one of the boys, this was not simply a "stupid mistake". This was a deliberate and callous act with violent undertones. On the video one of the boys can be heard mockingly describing what would happen if he stuck a knife in Mrs. Klein.
The bad news is, these are kids. The blame for their moral malformation and subsequent terrible behavior can be laid squarely at our feet -- the grown-ups.
The good news is, these are kids. There is ...
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