Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Columns

October 27, 2013

Parents must serve as examples

— — There was a time when parents could send their children to school and know that they were in a safe environment. Those days seem to be fleeting.

More incidents involving guns and school shootings have occurred, the most recent in Sparks, Nev., a locale near Reno. There were also situations this week in Northern California and Washington state.

It seems that a 12-year-old middle school student took a gun from his home and began shooting as the school day began. A teacher was fatally shot before the youngster turned the gun on himself in Sparks.

It has nearly been a year since the tragedy at Sandy Hook took place where kindergarten and first graders were so tragically taken from their loved ones. We all recall the tragedies at Columbine and Jonesboro, Ark. The most horrific event took place about 67 miles east of Bluefield on Route 460 at Virginia Tech where 32 lives were lost.

What can be done to keep our children safe?

No matter the solution, it is going to cost and we should be ready to ante up. Whether it’s more secure buildings with bulletproof entries, or paid armed guards, there will be a cost.

I am not a proponent of arming school personnel. While there are many teachers and staff who are trained and capable of handling firearms, I and some teachers I know, are not in favor of that proposal.

One answer in response to children taking guns to school is parental responsibility. Parents must make sure children cannot access weapons and take them from the home.

When I was young and had a beef with a classmate, we’d possibly end up fighting to settle the problem. Today it seems like the weapon of choice has turned from the schoolyard knuckles to Smith & Wesson.

That also leads me to another issue that seems to be prevalent in society today, bullying.

Bullying is not new. It has always occurred. What is new are kids committing suicide and killing others because they are or have been bullied.

It leads me to think that youngsters are not being taught core values, most importantly the Golden Rule — do unto others ... you know how the rest of it goes.

Bullies are oftentimes victims of some kind of abuse themselves, be it by parents, siblings, relatives or acquaintances.

Many times bullies target those whom they perceive weak. It has little to do with size. I’ve seen small bullies, I’ve seen large bullies. It’s all about power. If one stands up to a bully, in many instances that bully will back off. At least that’s how it was in my day and not too long ago when my son was going through school.

Parents, we need to teach our children how to stand up for themselves. We also need to be there to listen and let them know we love them and teach them the survival skills they need in this world. Those needs are spiritual and physical and they are to be taught and instilled by parents in the home and in our houses of worship. It is not the responsibility of teachers to make sure children have a set of values. Values are to be taught by parents along with faith values.

Parents also need to teach their children not to tolerate bullying. When a witness to bullying, those not being bullied should let the one doing the bulling know that it is wrong and do not stand idly by. There is strength in numbers. Parents teach your children right from wrong.

There is an almost unbelievable story that recently came out of Texas. Go figure that, right?

It seems that a parent is suing a football coach because her son’s football team got beat 91-0 by that coach’s team.

Are you freaking kidding me?

Bullying?

That’s gone a little too far.

It’s a football game and you lost. Wipe away the tears, slap hands with the other team and go out and play again on another day.

Sometimes parents take losses harder than the kids involved. I know I did.

My son was on the Bluefield basketball team in 2006 that lost the state championship game to Ravenswood. To put it lightly, I was a little bit angry but then Jonathan put it in perspective when he said, “Dad, it’s just a game. You’re taking it harder than I am.”

What’s next, a lawsuit for assault when a player is tackled on the football field, or a battery charge when a basketball player is fouled? Let’s not even think about what is going to happen when a parent who knows nothing of the game of baseball sues a pitcher because their child struck out.

Folks, let’s stop the madness and begin by setting good examples for our children and teaching our children something other than the latest dance, song or catch phrase.

Bob Redd is a sports writer for the Daily Telegraph. Contact him at bredd@bdtonline.com.

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