2000-04-15 / Editorial/Opinion

Parents Must Take Responsibility

Truth or Dare was never the most innocent game, but nowadays it goes way beyond the kissing in the corner. According to news reports, it was a game of Truth or Dare that led to an 11-year-old boy having sex with a nine-year-old girl and then two 12 year-old-boys having sex with that same girl. All this took place in a school hallway in Harlem.

The facts are still a little sketchy, but it seems that the initial act of sex between the 11-year-old boy and the girl was consensual, but the two 12-year-old boys forced themselves on the girl. Either way, why the heck are kids this young having sex?

Where does the fault lie? Is it the school? Well, teachers should know who is in the classroom and who is out of the classroom. Students roaming the hallways can lead to a multitude of problems.

When a teacher is absent and no substitute is available, as in this case, schools will often combine older and younger students in a class. Maybe this is a policy that needs to be reviewed. Rape is bad enough, but maybe next time it’ll be a 12-year-old who gets angry at a nine-year-old and severally hurts or kills that child.

The school is an easy scapegoat, but the blame lies with the parents of these children. Obviously these kids have difficulty understanding what’s wrong and what’s right, and the parents can’t squirm away from this one. These are not 15, 16 or 17-year-olds, who have begun to sow their wild oats. These are 10, 11 and 12-year-olds!

The sad truth is that there might not be much parental involvement in the lives of these kids. They don’t know right from wrong because they haven’t been taught what is right and what is wrong. So, you have kids growing up without discipline, structure, and many times, that most basic necessity called love. These kids, like so many out there these days, are growing up watching and listening to vulgar and explicit television shows and music. There is no one telling them to shut it off, to read a book, to go outside and play stickball. The end result of such scenarios is incidents like what happened in this Harlem school.

It is time for parents to take stock and realize that their kids are just that, kids. Parents carry the responsibility for what their children are exposed to and, most importantly, only parents have the ability to shelter and protect their kids from the big, bad world out there. Turn off MTV, explain that it is not acceptable viewing for nine, 10 and 11 year olds. Know who your child’s friends are and what they are doing at "playtime", whether it is at home or in school. Monitor what is going on in your child’s school and make it your business to be assured that your children are supervised at all times. Tell your elected officials that it is unacceptable to have children roaming the hallways or unsupervised in a classroom. Most importantly, talk to your kids and listen to them. This way you’ll know what’s happening in their lives and you’ll be the one they come to for advice. Make sure they know that you are willing to discuss any subject. Opening the lines of communication around the dining room table, as in the days of "Father Knows Best", might just be the way to go. Good luck!


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