I know it’s not your fault, but does it ever seem to you people are a lot less willing to take responsibility for their own behavior?
You probably could see this coming for a while now. I think it must have something to do with global warming or perhaps the superabundance of lawyers afflicting our society. In any case, the trend toward dodging personal responsibility might have reached a nadir not long ago.
An inebriated man, after sexually assaulting a neighbor woman, sued the distillery that had produced the wine he’d been guzzling all afternoon. The spirits made him do it, the man and his worthy lawyer argued.
A related tendency also seems to be growing more pronounced. I’m talking about the continuing decline in the willingness of parents to take responsibility for their offspring. And this derivative phenomenon actually might be threatening to outstrip even the decline of personal accountability.
Just last month, for instance, we reported on the reaction of one mother when she learned her 12-year-old daughter had received an in-school suspension for taking a laser pointer to school. Was the mother grateful for the school’s prudent stewardship of her daughter? Did she express relief that an assistant principal had confiscated her daughter’s dangerous toy before someone was injured?
“If you shine [a laser pointer] into an eye for a prolonged period of time it could cause damage,” the mother groused to the press. “But we all know that when you put a pencil in an eye, it can cause damage, too.”
A wonderfully helpful parental response.
Now, on the front page of this issue of eSchool News, we’re sad to report an incident in which a youngster at Maple Park Middle School in Kansas City, Mo., actually has suffered permanent eye damage. The reason, according to Principal Scott Wilson: A classmate shone a laser pointer into the boy’s eye for about five seconds.
And some parental reactions can be so unexpected as to make you do a double-take.
At least, that’s what I did when I learned of the events unfolding in Livermore, Calif. There, a 12-year-old boy went to the public library ten times last summer and allegedly downloaded dozens of dirty pictures from the internet. The precocious lad proceeded to reproduce them on a relative’s computer equipment. He then distributed the sexually explicit images among his playmates at school.
In a less enlightened age, that young miscreant might have been hauled off to the woodshed. More recently, a mother or father might at least have made him sit down promptly for a stern talking to.
Well, in this case, the boy’s mother took quick action, too. She marched straight down to her lawyer’s office, and they promptly sued the library. (No word, incidentally, on whether Mom is taking legal action against that relative whose unfettered printer was used to reproduce the explicit images.)
As we report on page 14 of this issue, the mother and her lawyer allege that by providing computers without internet content filters, the library had created an “attractive nuisance.”
To be sure, libraries have an affirmative duty to try to keep kids from gaining access to pornography on the internet, although exactly how they set out to meet that responsibility is, in my view, a matter best resolved by librarians not lawyers.
Even so, wouldn’t it be nice if more parents would agree that they, too, have some personal responsibility for governing the behavior of their children?
So there. With that said, I’m sure things will be much better now. And if they’re aren’t, just don’t blame me.