Little Bullies, Big Problem: Karen Klein Case Highlights Moral Malformation of our Youth
hope for them. The "mold" isn't totally set yet and there is time to try to recast them. Only if, however, we are honest enough to connect the dots and admit that the ugly picture is our own doing.
These kids weren't raised in a vacuum. They're the product of their environment and their culture. They've become what they've been fed -- a steady diet of consumerism; violence through graphic video games and television; crude and vulgar speech through the music blasting from their iPods; relentless sexual titillation bombarding them everywhere they turn; and the philosophy of "me first." They've learned that their wants should be satisfied without delay or cost to them. They've learned that pleasure dominates, and if something displeases them, they can ignore it, neglect it, or destroy it.
They've learned that promises don't mean much and vows can be broken any time; fidelity is old-fashioned and sex is the meaning of life. Other people are not human beings with dignity but objects to be used for satisfaction and then discarded. They find amusement in vandalism and give no thought to trashing a grave site.
God is out, and their personal freedom, according to the dictates of relativism, is the true supreme law that cannot be violated. Worst of all, they are growing up with a deep disregard for human life. In the case of human life deemed "less than" their own, they seem to have an instinctual contempt. (Why? Because we celebrate the pagan practice of slaughtering our own children if we don't want them, or they're not perfectly healthy, or they're not the right gender, or hey, just because, that's why. You think they don't get the message that only some human life is valuable?) That's what we saw on that school bus.
Imagine a world dominated by such people in 30 years. Are you alarmed yet? So my question is, when are folks finally going to admit that our culture is toxic and ruining our kids? When are the adults going to start showing up again? Who created this toxic mess anyway? From whom are these kids learning their boorish, selfish, and cold-hearted behavior? (You get three guesses and the first two don't count.)
Solidarity requires that after the discipline is enforced we get to the root of the problem and teach these children what it means to love their neighbor, what it means to love, period. Clearly, they do not know. Whose fault is that?
Let's start by acknowledging that for too long parents have surrendered their parenting authority to the culture at large, either out of indifference, laziness, or ambition. Kids have become things we have around only when it's convenient for us, and the truth is that children are never convenient. They require a commitment and a sacrifice that much of our society is unwilling to make. We're raising future adults here, and the sampling on that school bus says we're doing a phenomenally lousy job.
One more thing: If this is the "socialization" that my homeschooled kids are supposedly missing out on by being "deprived" of their peers, you better believe I want no part of it and you'll "socialize" my kids over my dead body. Every homeschooled child I've ever met has been polite, respectful, pleasant to talk with, helpful, and considerate. Precisely because they're not learning to behave like animals from their peers -- they've learned to be civilized, respectable people from the adults in their lives.
Imagine a different picture and connect these dots: Mom and Dad are married to each other, living under the same roof. Mom and Dad know how to say NO. Love, respect, kindness, and service to others are the rule. Children are taught modesty in dress, speech, and behavior. (aka, Pull Your Pants Up and Mind Your Manners) They learn that all human life is sacred. They learn they are not the center of the universe. They learn to put God first in their lives, and as a result, they are happy. They learn chastity is possible and preferable. They learn that they matter; they're worth a lot; they're needed; they're wanted; they've got a purpose. They learn they are loved, and they learn how to love others.
Now tell me -- which set of dots should we be connecting?
Jennifer Hartline is a grateful Catholic, a proud Army wife and homeschooling mother of three children. She is a contributing writer for Catholic Online. Visit her online at Wake Up, Deborah!
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: bullying, Karen Klein, middle school, school bus, discipline, Jennifer Hartline
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