June 28, 2012

The evolution of the cultural norm

Cpl. Aaron Diamant
Desert Warrior Staff

As I get ready for work most mornings, I watch the news. I can’t tell you if it’s because I’m in the news business myself, or because I like knowing what’s going on in the world, or just because there’s nothing else on. But every once in a while, I see a story that shocks me.

After spending some time as a law enforcement officer and almost four years as a Marine, seeing the worst in people is nothing new to me. It’s quite a feat to truly amaze me. I’m not being cynical by any means, I’ve also seen people do the extraordinary and been blessed with the opportunity to cover some of these events.

Unfortunately, for many people, I believe, the bad is what seems to stick out in our minds.

I recently watched a news segment on middle school children tormenting their 68-year old bus monitor to the point of tears.

For nearly 10 minutes, a group of four seventh-grade children repeatedly called this poor woman names and even suggested her children should commit suicide. Try as she might to ignore them, she ultimately moved to telling them to stop, which sadly ended in her shedding tears. As it turns out, her eldest son did take his own life 10 years ago.

In a typical move, one of the geniuses posted the video he took with his cell phone on the internet, and boom, national news coverage and nearly 2 million views on

I blame parents. It may seem like a copout, but had these children been raised better, this might not have happened. The bullying problem in America’s schools already seems to be bad enough. What is amazing to me, is today’s teens don’t seem to be happy picking solely on their peers anymore, they’ve moved to what they perceive as the next weakest victim.

In this case, the next weakest victim is an older woman who spends her time ensuring kids aren’t picking on one another, only to become the target of unwarranted ridicule and harassment herself.

What happened to the days when children were taught to respect their elders? For that matter, what happened to the days when children were taught to respect others at all?

Not so long ago, children called men and women ‘sir’ or ‘ma’am.’ I personally don’t like to be called ‘sir,’ but it is designed to show respect, not title. As Machiavelli said, “It is men who give luster to titles, not titles to men.” If someone’s child calls me ‘sir,’ I am not going to tell the child not to do so, I understand and appreciate what that parent is instilling in their child.

Children used to know disrespect equaled punishment, something that doesn’t seem to compute in many children anymore. This is because the attitude of the vast majority is, “They’re just a child, they didn’t mean anything by it.”

This is absolutely false, and a terrible idea. By taking this mentality, you are in fact enabling and encouraging children to disrespect others. You are contributing to the demise of decency in this country.

By no means is this an all-encompassing statement that all kids are evil little hellions, or that all parents fail to execute their duties. There are some really great kids out there, but they are becoming fewer and farther between. On those few occasions, I am happy to let them and their parents know they are great kids.

Much like training a dog, who is not a rational thinking adult, you must reinforce and reward good behaviors and punish the bad behaviors.

Alas, children being disrespectful and disobedient is the new social norm, and it’s a sad realization, one that I firmly believe should be changed.

Where were the children on the bus? Why did no one on the bus come to the aid of this woman?

This is just more evidence that the boisterous, downright evil actions of these children are viewed as socially acceptable by their peers.

I’ve also had to deal with some military children during various events. Yes parents, I said ‘deal with’ your kids, and I meant it. Even in military families, where the service member is expected to be well-disciplined at all time, the apple, at times, seems to fall far from the tree. Some of your kids have behavior problems and bad attitudes, and many of us would appreciate you adjusting them.

As a young student of law enforcement, I went on a ride along with a county sheriff’s deputy, who was also a friend of mine. He got the typical, “come raise my child for me because he won’t listen to me” call, and I got to witness the whole thing. To make a long story short; yes, you are allowed to discipline your children and no, it is not a police officer’s, or anyone else’s, job to do it for you.

Many of you out there have no problems disciplining your subordinates in the workplace, try enforcing some discipline in your kids, too.

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