Sunday, April 25, 1999

Readers: Parents the problem

Teen violence also blamed on media, guns

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Many parents' failure to discipline and pay attention to their children is the biggest cause of youth violence today, say respondents to a Cincinnati Enquirer survey.

        Thirty-one Enquirer readers responded to this question in Saturday's paper: Which factor do you think has the greatest impact on youth violence?

        Student safety and youth violence are major issues being discussed with renewed vigor nationally since Tuesday. That's when two students at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., killed 12 fellow students and a teacher and injured 23 before turning their guns on themselves.

        Most people responding to the Enquirer question said the problem of youth violence lies with parents and the home environment, and about a third thought the causes included the lack of religious instruction and moral teaching.

        Sometimes parents have no choice but to be too busy for their children, some readers wrote via e-mail, but sometimes parents choose to be too busy.

        “Parents must put their children absolutely first and discriminate between their own needs and their desires,” wrote reader Anne Paquette of Anderson Township.

        “Our children need someone to listen to them in an unhurried, caring environment. Parents have far too much stress in today's world, and children suffer the results of this.”

        Lorraine Coy, 58, of Florence has four children between 33 and 38. She would not want to be rearing children today.

        “Parents are supposed to be direct and guide their kids, not just provide them with the latest forms of entertainment and leave them to their own devices,” Mrs. Coy wrote. “They need to spend enough time to really get to know the kids and be so in tune with them that they know when there is trouble on the horizon.”

        Wrote Nathalene Pena of Woodlawn: “Parents are too busy trying to make more money to buy bigger houses

        and fancier cars rather than paying attention to the children they chose to bring into this world.”

        Judy Kuhn, a retired Walnut Hills High School teacher from Springfield Township, agrees home and religious environments have the greatest influences on children. But some parenting roles, she says, often fall to teachers.

        “Let's provide teachers with in-service training so they can spot potential problems,” she wrote. “For example, I personally considered April a "red flag' month. ... Suicides, arson, attacks, property destruction — all came most often in April. College acceptances arrive in April. Kids discover whether they will graduate; job hunting begins; prom dates are made or rejected.”

        Other readers say the nation is reaping what it has sowed by not holding to its religious traditions.

        C.W. Lindner of Madeira wrote that “tolerance embraces everyone except those who hold to our coun try's Judeo-Christian heritage: “How ironic it was to read in (Friday's) Cincinnati Enquirer that the Milford Exempted Village School district has prohibited a Christian student club from making activity announcements on the school's bulletin boards, school newspaper (and) PA system, or having a page in the yearbook.

        “There are 73 extracurricular groups at this Milford school. The drama club, Students Against Drunken Driving, etc., are allowed to announce their events, but a group that focuses on morals and values and living a life in service to others is denied access.”

        Some people blamed the media.

        “The greatest negative impact on youth (and adults) is the lack of personal responsibility seen daily in the media — primarily TV and movies — where violence, extramarital sex and other wrong behavior is shown to have no adverse consequences,” wrote Neal Sundermann of Symmes Township.

        “The reason youth (and adults) believe this is because they want to — it feels good, and because the same media make fun of the alternate behavior or anything else that purports to tell us that there is a higher power than ourselves who is ultimately in control.”

        Then there is the issue of guns.

        “Isn't it obvious to everyone yet? It's the guns,” wrote Jon and Kathy Hanas of Erlanger.

        Harry Thomas is a retired Cincinnati Police officer and serves on the board of directors of the National Rifle Association of America.

        “Guns were as common a generation ago as they are now, and schoolhouse shootings were unknown,” Mr. Thomas wrote.

        What has changed is society, he wrote: Mothers are forced to work because of high taxes. Schools are unsure about discipline. Movies glorify violence.

        “There will be more incidents like this,” Mr. Thomas wrote. “... Suppose our school systems, instead of adhering to the foolishness that schools must be gun-free zones, were to encourage teachers to be armed and therefore equipped to deal with such situations as just occurred in Colorado?”

Talk about gun control and school shootings at our forum
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