Just Blowing Some Steam

Late one Friday night a few weeks ago, my wife and I retired to our bedroom to watch the news and catch up on a little reading. Our two youngest were fast asleep, tucked snugly in their beds, and Brodie, our ever-faithful twenty pound Schnauzer watch-dog lay on her back at our feet, out like a light. Except for our teenage daughter out on a double date with friends, all was right with the world.

About midnight, the time of our eldest daughter's curfew, I heard what I thought was a group of young people yelling out on my front lawn. My neighborhood is usually quiet and peaceful at night so I thought I'd take a look. And what did I see to my surprise? Two teenage girls beating up on my daughter not ten feet from my front door. Don't get me wrong. I'm a big fan of multiple-opponent sparring, but this wasn't good.

Slipping on a pair of shorts, I jogged downstairs and out into the snow in my bare feet. I proceeded to grab the first girl, tossing her through the air to land quite safely a short distance away. And the second girl, well, I think she'd had enough when she saw her friend fly. Not to mention, by the look of their faces, my daughter had gotten her share of licks in before Dad came trudging to the rescue.

These two young women had obviously been drinking quite a bit. The smell of alcohol hung in the air around them like the stench of a chain smoker sitting in the non-smoking section. We talked for a long while about whether the police should be called, and they suggested they might send their fathers back to beat me up. In the end, they staggered off peacefully into the night.

Unprovoked violence by young people is on the rise. Almost every day one of my own children relates a story to me about someone they know or someone they've heard of getting beaten up at school or afterwards by one or more kids. A young boy at my son's school was being violently beaten up so regularly by one particular bully, that his parents went so far as to pull him out of school altogether. The 11 year old bully has since been shipped elsewhere, and the school has assured the parents of the first boy that it will be okay for him to return to regular classes following the March break. I don't know about you, but does sweeping the dirt under the rug come to mind? The bully has just become someone else's problem.

And don't even get me started on the story about the son of a friend of ours who was so badly kicked and beaten in the school yard during school hours that he had to be rushed to the hospital and have a hole drilled into his skull to drain the fluids caused by the swelling.

Do I sound like a parent venting his anger at a society that allows its youth to run amok causing damage and pain to other youth, to anybody for that matter, relatively unchecked? Absolutely!

We recite the young offenders act and slap a wrist or two, trumpeting the message loud and clear that if you're between the ages of 12 and 18 you needn't worry about taking responsibility for your actions, that it's okay to sell dope, steal, assault, rape and perhaps even murder. You're young. You deserve a second, third and probably fourth chance no matter what you do.

The young offender pedophile that sexually assaulted the 4-year old daughter of another couple I know lives just around the corner from them. There are lost of kids in the neighborhood, and he got off without even so much as a wrist slap. But I won't get into that either.

I'll tell ya kids… if I were between the ages of 12 and 18 I'd be really ticked off. The system is actually saying you're stupid. They're saying you're too stupid to realize that what you're doing is wrong. But we know that's not true, don't we? You know what you're doing is wrong. You just do it anyway. It's true and you know it. You know the system so well; some of you play it like a game.

So what that tells me is you're pretty smart. Real smart. Smart enough to know right from wrong. Smart enough to be responsible, and accountable for your actions. And I know that you're smart enough to know that if you're stupid enough to do the crime, society should be smart enough to make you do the time.

If you're a parent, pay attention to your kids. If you're a kid, pay attention to your parents. You might learn something.

Till next time, stay sharp.

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