Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Reputation means everything...

Today is a blog for the kids out there and their parents. The news often catches my attention, and how could it not with unstable people throwing away cats and teens crashing into a bridge at 100+ miles an hour (BTW he lived, though surely his life will change severely). Yesterday's news was full of stories to blog about, but one in particular hit me in the parenting strings.

A 14 year old boy was accused of breaking into a neighbor's apartment and brutally stabbing a deaf and mute 16 year old boy. Right off the story is horrific; what would make a child do something so violent? Then it gets even worse. The news, in their search for a bigger and better story, starts knocking on neighbor's doors. They have this sick desire to be the first on the scene, the first to shove a tragic event into people's faces, and then film for the world to see. The neighbors rarely let America down, which I never understand. Relatives, siblings, and yes, even parents can be found on the news recounting the tragedy or fatality of their loved ones, as soon as the same day! This trend is especially disturbing to me.

But, back to this story. The news gathers neighbors, tells them of the brutal stabbing and then films their reaction. When the shock turns to anger, they begin questioning about the accused boy. Neighbors quickly paint a picture of a hoodlum with accusations like, "I always knew he was bad", and "I saw him looking in cars with a flashlight last week." Soon people were coming out of the woodwork, one by one piling on more judgement and vague accusations on this 14 year old.

Turns out, the boy's own mother attacked him and then blamed the 14 year old. I'll let that soak in a minute...

This is a horrible example of how life is an ongoing learning experience. I don't promote the tactics used by the news crews, but I will certainly sit my kids down and explain how this could happen to any kid, especially if that kid has gotten in trouble before. Keep in mind, there were no reports of this 14 year old ever being arrested for anything, but he was readily accepted as a violent offender because of emotional neighbors, and possibly some stupid actions on his part in the past.

Many kids today think it's a right of passage to get in trouble, or they think what they're doing wrong doesn't hurt anyone, or maybe they simply believe they won't get caught. What they don't think about is their reputation. It's something I'm always trying to teach my children. You are how you act, at least in the eyes of the public. If you show the slightest disregard for someone else's property or person, you're viewed as a deviant. If you don't have enough people around you who can vouch for your innocence, you risk being condemned by the public, and even by the law.

The mother in this case was obviously cold, or unstable, enough to brutally harm her own child and then blame another child. Imagine if she was able to continue the lie? An innocent teen would have been put in jail. He's already been found guilty by his neighbors.

So kids, know that what you do does matter, always has some consequence, and does shape your reputation and the way the world views you.

I hope that the 14 year old, and all kids in similar situations, takes this experience as a lesson in human behavior and doesn't cause himself more problems by reacting out of anger. I also hope that the neighbors learned something too. Don't be quick to judge another, say "No Comment" and let the police and court systems do their job.

Of course this is my opinion, let me know if you agree or disagree.


Kristin : )


  1. Wow, that was horrible on so many levels. Our actions always make a difference- I have two teens, and we've always tried to get them to understand that being with a group that is doing something wrong then saying afterwards "But it wasn't me, I was just THERE." doesn't cut it. If you were there, then you were involved. Period. I think it's sunk in--they are 16 and 17 now--and haven't gotten in trouble. We talk a lot and things come up that we have to go over again and again about, but they are good kids.

    As far as this crime you mentioned- the mother must have been so deranged, and talk about neighbors willing to blame someone they just didn't like-I have to wonder how many things were overlooked with this woman, or ignored because people didn't want to "get involved". Ugh. It's too late once someone is murdered or abused.

  2. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your own experiences and thoughts on this. I agree that raising kids takes a lot of teaching and reteaching. At the end of the day we can only hope they absorb the important stuff :)

  3. Sad story, which is an understatement to say the least. Wow. People are seriously f*cked up. I agree with you, I think that is true for all of us, your actions are all you have really - they define you whether you want them to or not. Thankfully we have things like due process (sort of - but that's another story), and one mistake does not always mean you are condemned, but what you do, reflects upon you, shines upon you like a spotlight. Same is true for those neighbors. Oh they are the guilty ones here in my opinion. Whoever figured out that people just love to offer their opinion on any issue, regardless of knowing anything or nothing about the subject, the history, the event, etc., I hate that 'journalism' like so many other things in our lives has gotten so lazy. It used to be, that sure you could talk to neighbors, but they were not giving you anything factual, defendable, so reporters would move on and diligently try to get the "real" story. Now, sadly they have discovered that we are a lazy people, that we will take (and actually respond more to) some ignorant rantings of Joe the Plumber, and believe we have the facts. We accept their laziness, so we must condone it right? So they continue to be lazy. It is a horrible mess we have found ourselves in, and we as the lazy public should take some blame for this event. OK - well that's my thought this AM. Thanks for sharing Kristin, I am sure your children will benefit from your wisdom on this issue!

  4. I agree with you on all points and would add that we also need to take more seriously and convey to our children about their actions on Facebook and MySpace, etc. I had a talk with my granddaughter about sexting, trying to cover as many aspects as I could including how some kids are criminally prosecuted for texting pictures of themselves in underwear, and how friendships can change and both boy and girl friends can distribute those images to hundreds in seconds. And then there's no such thing as privacy anymore with everyone having a cell phone with a camera or video that can go viral in minutes. I don't think we can eliminate the risks, but we must be responsible in making children aware.