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Barbara Greenberg

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Are We Creating Violent Teens?

Posted: 03/27/2013 8:52 pm

I think that I may be losing my mind. I need all of the parents of teens out there to help me. Listen, I rarely implore you to help me with reality testing but I need you now. Look -- I devote my life to the well-being of teens everywhere so I feel that I deserve a little reciprocity.

Just today I read about two teens in the U.S. who tried over a three month period to poison their teacher by putting hand sanitizer in her drink. Here have a look at the story. Now, take a look at the parents' reaction. They are focusing on what the school did wrong rather than on their own child's behavior? WHAT? It is the school that is at fault? Look -- I don't know these parents but are they modeling an attitude of disrespect that their teen may have learned?

I used to think that our teens were becoming more violent mostly because of the easy access to guns. I am not sure of this at this point. The mode of violence in the teacher poisoning story was hand sanitizer not handguns or rifles. I am still watching and helping people recover from the tragedy of the recent Sandy Hook shooting where innocent first graders saw their last sunrise on the day that a young man decided to abruptly abbreviate their short lives. I am still reeling from the incident several months ago during which several students teased and tormented a grandmotherly bus monitor mercilessly.

What exactly is contributing to the breakdown of values? Hey, I know that I went to middle and high school years ago but I would have been deeply ashamed if I had hurt anyone and nobody would have taken my side. Just for the record I was never hit or spanked. On the other hand, it was clear to me that a good person did not take it upon themselves to harm others and then expect to get their parents' support.

I work with teens and their parents every day. I speak to groups of parents and teachers several times per month. And, I will tell you what I see. I see parents who are willing to protect their kids' at any cost. These parents would rather be their teens' friend than act as a parent. Being a parent means setting rules, instilling values, establishing parameters and setting behavioral expectations. I will tell you what else it means. It means that sometimes your teens will be angry at you for saying no to them but this is a necessary part of parenting. I see plenty of parents who are afraid of their kids' anger. This is a real shame because this prevents parents from setting rules and expectations. And, guess what? In my experience teens thrive if they are given rules, expectations and consequences. And they generally recover from their anger at their parents relatively quickly.

So help me here. What else is going on that is contributing to a breakdown in values and an increase in teen violence? One only has to follow the news to know that this is in fact the case.

Your opinion, please.

 

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