A recent news article reported that a number of junior high school students were kicked out of the World Trade Center Memorial in NYC for throwing baseballs, plastic bottles, and other litter into the memorial pools. 

While virtually all the adults and some of the other students deplored the act and called it disrespectful, one young scholar offered this quote:

“No one was disrespecting.  It wasn’t nothing like that,” said one student.   “No one was being serious.  Everyone was kind of bored and it was just something to do.”

The poor grammar aside, this young person defined for us old fogies just what disrespect means to some youth today:
  • Actions themselves, no matter how egregious, are not disrespectful;
  • A serious attitude and intent to show disdain must motivate any action if it is truly disrespectful;
  • Any action can be justified if it is done out of boredom.
I have often encountered this argument that only intentions matter, as in “I didn’t mean to do that,”  [as if that excused the action.]  I am convinced that certain words, acts and deeds are inherently wrong and must be avoided; and my standard response was, “But you didn’t mean NOT to do it,” [so you did it and it was the wrong thing to do, and the discipline about to come your way is fully deserved.  Next time, think about your actions and intentionally avoid the wrong.]
My question is, Where were the teachers?  Why did the memorial officials have to put a stop to the actions, rather than the teachers?  Oh, I forgot:  teachers are innocent victims of student misbehavior, not paid supervisors responsible to correct and discipline misbehavior.

Rene LaRosa, of Saddle Brook, N.J., pinned the blame squarely on the shoulders of the students.  “If these kids were in middle school, then they’re old enough to know better,” said LaRosa, a preschool teacher.

Which reminds me of the school bus aide who has been in the news lately for being bullied by middle school children.  The students were wrong–but what was the aide hired to do?  She should have had that driver pull over so she could radio back to the school and have those miscreants on report, in detention, and off the bus quicker than YouTube could play the video.  She was reported as saying that she didn’t want to make it worse–but if stopping bad behavior and disciplining disrespect makes the problem worse, then there is no hope  under the sun for the next generation.

     Adults, be the kind of adults that you want these kids to grow up to be–by whatever legitimate means possible.  Please.