Following one of the news stories from Madison this past week reminded me, once again, that parents and adults who supervise young people have one goal to undertake from the moment they lift their head from the pillow until they place it there again at night. One thing that must constantly be at the forefront of their day. That is the requirement of being an adult in every situation that deals with a young person.
Madison news was filled with reports about a 16-year-old girl being charged with attempted first-degree intentional homicide in a stabbing at a city park that doctors said could have killed a 14-year-old boy. Obviously, the adult court will be required to deal with this outlandish and unacceptable behavior. The weapon was a kitchen knife, and the violence was the continuation of a fight that started at a middle school. Adding to the absurdity of this story is the report the stabber’s aunt drove the 16-year-old and others to and from the park before and after the fight. The aunt, it was reported, told the teenager to get rid of the knife, a weapon that when found at a local business garbage can, still had blood still on it.
As I read this story my mind rushed back to my teen years when an uncle would load a bunch of cousins in his car and drive……to the latest Star Wars movie. Kin from all over the midwest would converge at the grandparent’s home for a long, wonderful summer week. No headlines were ever made for any newspaper to report.
What in hell allows for the outcome that made headlines in Madison about the stabbing? How is it that this city can produce spelling sensations—kids I love to post about each year as they spell words I never even knew existed—but also have a middle school fight that extends to a park and a knife wound that doctors said would have been fatal if the weapon had been inserted only three more millimeters?
We love to talk about poverty and family structure and great social inequities, and yes, while all that plays a part in such madness there is still something else missing from the discussion. Something that is lacking in homes and the upbringing of young people. There needs to be, must be, a strong understanding that personal responsibility is central to all actions taken. In this case above, not only for the student with the knife but also very much so for the adult who demonstrated extremely poor judgment. What happened is staggering to read about. What is most troubling is that none of it needed to have happened at all.
What I sense to be lacking in our city-wide conversations is the lack of regard that personal responsibility plays not only in the lives of individuals but how that then impacts the city as a whole. That responsibility is just not for the youth of this city, but also for the adults. I understand what I write will be tuned out by some and rejected by others. Some will say I am just too removed from today’s youth and their concerns ‘to understand’. To all that I say the foundations for family and personal responsibilities do not change, though the decades do.
Parents and adults need to instill values in kids about how respecting oneself and others is the only way to make it through life successfully. Our youth need to better understand and be able to work through the fact that not everything in life will go smoothly, but when things get bumpy, we do not lash out, but instead stay calm and work through it. I truly think most will agree that what we really need is to implement the guidelines of personal responsibility that our grandparents employed. It worked for our parents, and I bet for those reading this blog. But that seems not to be politically correct to say in Madison these days.