Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Teaching our youth accountabilty

The news raised the hair on my arms and sent chills down my spine. A fraternity from the University of Oklahoma was caught singing damning lyrics on its way to a party celebrating its founding. The words that came out of the young boys' mouths referred to blacks and lynching and was caught on a cell phone recording that was to later go viral on social media.

The video depicts the young boys as apparently drunk. They had to be, singing such lyrics in this century. You expect some racist tendencies from children, but not to this extent and not from boys from good families. There was laughter and passion behind words so dangerous and outdated you would think they were singing the national anthem at a national sporting event.

Then there is another report that shows the younger American generation still lagging academically compared to their peers. The competency test included young adults between the ages of 16 - 34 and tested the ability of young adults to make decisions along many topics. The result is that American youth are still unable to understand the basics. The report's findings have been supplemented by another academic testing, the ACT, which shows that many American children are still not ready for first year college courses.

Add to these events the rise in sexual harassment accounts, the lack of work available for the younger generation as reported in the jobs report, the staggering rate at which children still commit crimes, drop out of school. It appears that even though technology and the internet have placed information and life lessons at the fingertips of our youth, they have yet to improve as functional souls to an already troubling planet. At this period of mass advances, you would expect more from and for our children.

Part of the problem is lack of accountancy. In the cases of harassment reported on college campuses, we have read in the past the manner in which many of these crimes were handled: with some skepticism and a touch of reservation. We want to give the accused as much benefit of the doubt as the accuser, because this country was built on reasonable doubt and conviction by peers only after all evidence is presented. But OU's President Boren would not have it. His reaction to the racist singing was to disband the fraternity and ban it from ever being housed on the campus. While some may perceive the reaction as severe, what President Boren related to his students is that no one is exempt from basic responsibility.

As the largest and wealthiest country in the world, we would expect our kids to beat their international peers in education, finance. Instead, we have our children coming in last in every assessment handed to them. Reports show that are youth are still unable to handle their money, save, budget, or stay out of debt. It happens because parents are either unable or unwilling to instill lessons the kids learn at school in the real world. Most of it comes from our inability to reach out to our kids, and hold them accountable when they do screw up in school and money. The number of times I've heard to let kids be and learn from their own mistakes is enough to drive anyone into illiteracy and financial ruin.

Children should be given the opportunity to learn at their own pace, but they should always be held to a standard of accountability that also teaches them there are consequences when you screw up. I'm talking the types of screw-ups that can later lead to greater transgressions such as debilitating debt and sexually abusing a woman. You avoid these pitfalls by instilling in children the fear of consequences, and respect for accountability by not excusing away every little mistake they make. We start by setting limits to the number of video games they can buy, questioning why they don't want to befriend us on social media, and come down hard on our boys when they violate young girls with seductive selfies. And at those moments when the kids won't consider our appeals or shrug off our requests, then we must learn to ask for help from schools and neighbors.

While technology has made our children wiser and more advanced, it has also placed greater burdens on their young shoulders they are unable to process and deal with. Immediate and harsh accountability is the only way they will ever learn to deal with such problems.

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