Sunday, May 1, 2011

Crime means punishment

Last week, Monday evening, one of the brilliant young people in our town, all of 13, went out in his backyard and aimed his laser pointer at the Maryland State Police helicopter flying overhead on a training mission.

This had the result of temporarily blinding the two pilots and one paramedic in the aircraft.  Big fun, huh?

But the thirteen-year-old then ran back into his own house, which was spotlighted by the MSP chopper, whose crew radioed to county police, who drove over to the youngster's house and filed juvie papers on him for reckless endangerment and unsafe use of a laser device.  They also confiscated the laser device. Experienced police were able to deduce that the youngster was an inexperienced prankster, because he ran to his own house while being jacklighted like a deer by the helicopter!

By now the young man has had time to repent.  I wonder, though, how will his parents weigh in on this.  Two scenarios come to mind:

a) his parents will realize that his actions placed the lives of three people in jeopardy, along with those on the ground, others in the air, and the aircraft itself and take appropriate measures, e.g. grounding him until his honeymoon

b) his parents will say this was a harmless prank, and why the heck are those nasty old police picking on young Brattleboro, who was only expressing himself in his own back yard?

Now, the truth is, Peggy and I don't have any kids of our own, because of certain codicils in the Smoot-Hawley Tariffs and the Stamp Act.  But one thing I do know about child-rearin' is, the parents ought to be the ones to a) model the correct behavior and b) point it out to the child when the child fails to a).   I hear all the time from parents who don't want to hurt little Petunia's fragile ego by correcting her, and all the while, Petunia keeps acting up, doing anything she can to get her parents' attention for a minute, hoping for some direction in her 17-year-old life.

Anyway, back to Brainiac and his pointer, this is not really something to make fun of.  We have to hope that either his parents or the juvenile justice system will see that he learns the error of his ways.   A great deal of today's parents are loath to correct their children, lest they harm their psyches in some way.  I'm telling you this: kids want direction, same as you do when you set out on a car trip for Ashtabula.  You don't want just to drive around until you stumble upon the Ohio town whose name derives from softening the Algonquin Indian term originally pronounced "Hush-tah-buh-lah", which means "River of many fish."

You know the Native American term for parents who don't take the time to provide direction to their children? They don't have one! They teach their children well!

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