Saturday, October 17, 2009

On who's boundaries?

I was so shocked the other night when an American channel reported about the plight of a teenage boy who was set on fire by four other teenagers, one of which is only thirteen years old. They had doused the poor victim with rubbing alcohol then set him on fire. Wow, has bullying gone this far? Or is it a form of teenage angst?

After watching the news I had kept asking myself: Why is being a teenager nowadays a lot difficult? It seems that along with the extra hair, the vocal changes, and intensifying odor, teenage angst is now a part of growing up. We parents know that our boys are going through physical transformation between thirteen and nineteen years old. They have acne, body odor, hair all over the place, they are awkward, confused, and insecure. They have hormones racing through their bodies like a Nascar driver without a speed limiter.

Then, there is peer pressure which is responsible for our teens rebellion. The boys especially, are particularly susceptible to these issues. Teenagers want to feel like a part of the group, and in order to do this, they often find themselves in positions that they don't particularly care for, but follow anyway. In most part they already know the consequence of their action but they do it anyway, because they feel they are in control of the situation and it makes them feel independent from their parents.

It seems that today's society is bringing up children who lack character qualities that were once commonplace. Things such as respect, obedience, and responsibility for self, seem to be in dire shortage. Of course, it is easy to lay all the blame on the little shoulders of the children, but is that the appropriate place for it to be?

Absolutely not!

The problem lies in the shortage of good and effective parents and the outcome is what we see in the children. Even our sitcoms on prime time television are a direct reflection of the lax societal standards that have become acceptable family behaviors. The reasons are primarily due to the ever-increasing stress and fast-paced lifestyles. More money, more "stuff", and more career accomplishments. And the loser are the children who have become more susceptible to outside influences.

Parenting is more difficult in this day and age than at any time in the past. In this age of technology there is instant information at any time. Children are more technologically smarter than ever. But nevertheless, they still need guidance and protection.

And a lot of parents are not providing these essentials.


Sid Brechin said...

I hate to say this but bullying even at this level is nothing new. I was smaller than average and changed schools often so was often a victim till high school. In junior high I got introduced to judo and my first year of High School I joined the wrestling team. Bullying didn't last past that. Part of it bullies really hate to be beat in public by someone much smaller than them. Another part my team mates on the wrestling team scared them. I was wrestling 90 pounds but the 136, 148, 158, and 168 pound team members were provincial champions and we lived in Canada's most populous province.

The next year I was Captain of the Varsity Rifle team and though weapons were super secure the title alone scared bullies. My brother George was average sized but because of what had happened with me was very anti bully. On the occasions bullies picked on him they usually left school grounds in a ambulance and he also made sure he took enough blows first that there would be no question he was defending themselves. The fact bullies are never alone was never a problem for him. The brother younger than him took Judo as well. George studied boxing later in life as well as karate. I got into that after marriage and my wife and I studied it together.

Most of the school shootings that have taken place in North America ( there were two multiple shootings in Canada before the first one in the states despite what Micheal Moore tries to imply in his Bowling for Columbine ) both of the Canadian ones and most of the US ones were the result of the shooters being consistent victims of bullying and unable to get help from staff. Here now there are bully hotlines similar to crimestoppers.

Today the worst bullying seems to be amoung teen girls. I have no idea why. Perhaps because of the fashion and having the right "stuff" Odette mentions.


Great post, very true. I feel for teachers as they have absolutely no power over the kids. To exclude a kid from school they have to almost commit murder to be expelled.
Everything is to P.C too touchy feely nice and ultimately the kids have the power.
I remember when my kids were younger, supermarket shopping nightmare. You scold or discipline them and everyone looked at you like a child abuser, do 'not a heck of alot' in the same situation and your seen as a bad parent, GAH.

We are in general not supported as a whole community anymore. Different values,opinions and every ones fear of being labelled a 'child abuser' leads to slackened parenting.

Anonymous said...

I totally see how kids have become so hardened now adays. We pulled our kids out of the public system here due to the rampant behaivor issues we were seeing in the public system. It really rubs off on your kids, and we are now doing a alternative where the parents are required to be involved which creates a kinder kid enviroment. When the parents care about how their kids are doing and acting towards others, the kids follow suit. I personally think the biggest problem now is people are very selfish, and its more about them, then their kids. There is little or no involvement in their education. Schools have become glorified daycares and children run them so that parents are not bothered. This all so that parents can find themselves, or buy the newest latest things. What does that tell our children? Why shouldn't they be angry? We live in a very selfish time, and I think it is backfiring. We have a 30% dropout rate, children are not motivated to work hard, and be good citizens. They are pawned off on whoever will take them. Most parents I know complain constantly about their children, but show little effort to make their situations better. I feel bad for kids now, when my child was in the system, I would try to help out as much as I could and it was sad for me to see how little these kids cared about how they treated their teacher or each other. I felt bad when I left that more parents were not there regularly to see how their kids were treating each other and the staff. At our new school we are amazed, I have kids open doors for me, they talk with me and are polite to me. I see these kids smiling and thriving. Amazing what parents who really care can do for children. What if we all put our best foot foward, sure its a huge sacrifice, but when children see that, they learn what it is to be generous, kind, and giving, and they become better people because of it. Sorry for the book but this incident really upset me, however it did not surprise me, I saw this behaivor a lot in the regular school system, and I feel parents in this country need to wake up! Thank you for posting on this problem. I feel so very sad for the mother of this child. What a heartbreaking experience for any family to go through.

Fi from Four Paws and Whiskers said...

yes - so true... the only child i had real issues with was the one I took my off too much during "the divorce"... he needed more input and boundaries and I didn't help.
good post..
I hope some values will reappear before it is too late...

Tracey said...

A good kick up the arse, & more boundaries set in the home is what is needed. There is no respect for anyone, schools have no power to chastise kids any more, but in all honesty, some kids are just 'born' like that I'm sure.

Odette said...

It seems in high school being bullied is a right to passage. I am just glad that in my school there is no cheetah lurking in the corridor hall looking for gazelles. Fellow students are more friendly and respectful of one another.
and we don't need to learn judo or taekwando to defend ourselves!

Odette said...

Kirst, Fi, Tracey,
It seems that teenagers of today are more active than the kids of yesteryear. there are increased independence too for teenagers in general, and technology allows them to communicate with anyone at any time. many more teens also have part time jobs these days, which means they spend less time at home, therefore parents too have less time to interact and maintain close bonds with their teens.
this is sad, because teenagers who do not have such a close bond with their parents will be more likely to turn to gangs to find that similar feeling of family and belonging. tsk, tsk, tsk...something should be done to address this.

Odette said...

Thank you for sharing your views, and i wont mind if you would write another chapter.
yes, teenage years are both a stressful and enjoyable period of a child's life. these years are full of difficult challenges and exciting adventures. as a parent we should try our best to enjoy these times alongside our teenage child. we should take an active role in our teens development, and always let them know we are there for them. why shouldn't we? these are our kids! they are magnificent individuals who are slowly becoming adults.
it is our duty to see to it that our kids develop positive self esteem, so that they wont be vulnerable to peer pressure and juvenile crime. family attachment and supervision are best strategies that protect our adolescents form engaging in unlawful behaviors. Its good to know you are taking part in your kids growing up.

Mimi said...

I truly believe that kids are influenced a lot by not only peer pressure, but by the majority of uncaring adults. Unfortunately that does not just mean parents, but could also include teachers and other relatives or adult friends of the family and popular actors and sports stars. Wow! My family learned a lot about uncaring and cruel teachers last year. That could have been the start of many problems for my kids if I had not changed their school.
I am so happy that I put my kids in a Christian school this year. The positive environment is a big plus and the teachers show that they care about the kids. They have some moral guidance.That is no guarantee that my kids will turn out the way I hope, I know, but it is a start. Parents, love your kids, show them that you love them, and have serious conversations with them.
Odette, my internet is still acting up and this was the first time I could get your blog to open in days. Great post!

Odette said...

I am so glad to hear from you. Hope your net connection wil be fixed soon.
My kids had went to catholics school since grade school till highschool. when i asked them if they had experienced being bulied in school, they all said no. in fact, they had enjoyed going to school tremendously because of the friends and the wonderful teachers there who had helped nurtured them to be responsible young adults. you were in the right track when you decided to move your kids in a more positive invironment.

jen said...

Great post Odette!!

The teenage years have just begun for me, as my oldest just turned thirteen. So far so good...knock on wood. I am lucky to live in an area where parents are very involved in their childrens education and school life. Yet, we still have experienced a bit of bullying and name calling. Boys of this age can be very cruel and extremely competitive!! It's also difficult to stick to our guns and say no when he asks for the latest ipod or cell phone because "all of his friends have them!" I mean who can really afford to buy a $250 ipod for a 13 year old?!! Even my 11 year old has friends with cell phones...That's just absurd to me!! As far as the TV goes?? We pulled the plug a couple of years ago!! I think more parents should do this. Then maybe their kids might actually pick up a book and learn to read!! I think parents have lost all common sense and are to worried about keeping up with the neighbors. And one more thing...It would be a cold day in hell that I ever let my daughter leave the house dressed like many of the teens I see when I'm out and about. I mean Hello people!! Be the parent!!! And a big YES to Tracey!! Some just need a good kick in the ars!!!!

Odette said...

we parents tend to spoil our kids big time. sometimes, we move our budget around them and not the other way around. but we should know when to be firm and say NO.
thanks you for sharing with us your view on this.

Angry American said...

You have hit the head right on the nail. That's EXACTALLY the right Rx for the basic problem of kids today. My old man went a little to far sometimes but, that "foot up the arse" technique is what kept me in line on more than occasion.

Just knowing he would kick my ass kept me out of lots of trouble. The punks today have no clue what respect, class or morals are anymore. And, nobody even tries to teach them. A lot of them simply need their ass lit up like a red hot coal when they act up. It's also none of the government's business when they do.

Kirst and "anonymous" are also right about parents becoming more involved in the education and social life of their kids. With the net and texting, it's so much easier for kids to get into trouble.

(Dear lord, I just had a horrible thought. How much more of a pain in the ass I would've been with this technology. <:o Frightening!!!)


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