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Writer laments society's abolishment of childhood
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Recent headlines greeted us with the story of a group of female cheerleaders beating the snot out of another girl, for the sole purpose of videotaping a "girl fight" to post on You-Tube, therefore rendering them famous, or some such nonsense. Close to home here in Georgia, a group of 8 and 9-year-olds meticulously planned the murder of their teacher.

How have we gotten to the point where a group of supposedly civilized children can turn to such madness? These children turned from human behavior to that of animals – a modern day retelling of Golding’s "Lord of the Flies."

And who is to blame for all this? The parents? Certainly. Our school system? For sure. Society in general? Absolutely. The children themselves? Most definitely.

We as a society have allowed ourselves to get into this mess. And until each one of us as parents stop listening to the idiocy that passes as social engineering in the government and in our school system, the problem will only continue to get worse.

It began with parents abdicating their responsibility to their children by turning them over to the public school system all day long, from early all day preschool for 3 and 4-year-olds, to all the aftercare programs, where a parent enters the child’s life at 6 p.m. and puts them to bed at 8 p.m. Parental influence is minimized to a few hours a day, if that.

It continued with our schools, where discipline is a thing of the past. There is no healthy awe or respect for teachers, for we have taught our children that their self-esteem is all important, and how dare we as adults do anything along disciplinary lines to meddle with that. Children learn very quickly who has the power, and when they are taught to mistrust everyone via drug/crime/sex education programs, it doesn’t take a great leap in logic to know a quick accusation of sex abuse against an authority figure is a great way to get them off your back.

We load our children with information they have no emotional or intellectual maturity to handle. We teach 6-year-olds not to touch anyone, to run from strangers, to fear everything. We give them adult information, and then are shocked that when put to the test, they fail miserably. All these education programs are engendered to teach children to be "safe." What all these programs forget to take into account is that these little human beings are CHILDREN. They are not capable of keeping themselves safe! It is the job of parents and authority figures to sustain children in an environment where these things will not become issues.

We have destroyed the innocence of our children, have robbed them of their chance to be children, and then we wonder why they model adult behavior sexually and criminally. Childhood is lost to our children. In our effort to keep them "safe, informed and educated," we have torn them from childhood and thrust them into adulthood. They have literally become "Mini-Me’s."

Alas, parents have thrown our children to the wolves. They think that because the school is taking care of sex ed, drivers ed, alcohol/drug education, diversity training, etc., that their job is done. Parents are taught to think they need to do nothing; the school is handling it. How sad and wrong this attitude is! Many parents don’t even realize it; they have equally been brainwashed by society and a governmental system which dis-empowers parents and puts all power with the government or "professionals."

The moral vacuum our children are being raised with has led to the degenerate acts one sees children committing daily. One thing about a vacuum – it will always be filled with something. We have removed everything good and wholesome from these childrens' lives, and have replaced it with rampant narcissism, a "do what feels good" attitude, a disdain for authority, and an obsession with movies, videos, video games and the internet. Websites like MySpace, Facebook and You-Tube only feed this obsession of self, and lead to incidents as seen with these cheerleaders.

What’s the answer? A return to responsibility in society in general. Parents taking control of what their children see, hear and do. Parents standing strong instead of giving in to their child’s every whim. Parents not being afraid to challenge the status quo in the public schools.

Does this sound harsh? It should. We as Americans need a wake-up call to rediscover what’s right, especially with regards to our children. Are there many good parents out there? Of course. But we must do more. It’s time to take back our society from incivility and the malaise affecting our youth.

Give them something to believe in.

That won’t come from some fake prize at school or yet another meaningless soccer trophy for participation.

It comes from the family giving their children love and challenges so they can amass a legacy of real accomplishment. It comes from teaching the dignity of all fellow humans, and the need for true service to others.

It’s hard, but we can do it.

We must – otherwise, our children, our greatest resource, will be squandered to the reality of degeneracy and failure.


Betsy DeBry is a Richmond Hill resident.

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