Parents must know children’s hearts

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 28, 1999

L’Observateur / April 28, 1999

Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., burned its way into the nationalconsciousness on April 20 in a searing blast of horror for parents everywhere. All over America parents asked the same questions: Why didit happen? How could it have happened? Can it happen here? Are we ready if it does? Parents, schools and police authorities all over will now try to head off an explosion of violence such as ravaged Columbine High School last week.

But tragically, some answers will only come when another such incident happens somewhere else.

Police, for example, can train extensively, but will they really be certain they’re ready before being put to the test? School authorities have tried for years to stem the apparent swell of violence among teen-agers, from placing police officers in the schools to the use of metal detectors and drug screening. Most times, though, despiteall precautions, a determined opponent will find a way.

Parents, you have the hardest road ahead. In some cases, despite allefforts to the contrary, children will go bad. But without effort fromparents at all, chances are much greater a tragedy will occur.

Parents, you must listen to your children. You must take an interest intheir activities. You must try and learn what they are doing, with whomthey associate and where their hearts lie. You must work diligently tokeep away bad influences, from violence to sex, to give your children a happy, safe and moral childhood.

There is no excuse whatsoever for those parents out there who take no real interest in their children or claim they are “too busy” to involve themselves in their children’s daily lives. There is no excuse for notmaking the effort to exhibit love, discipline and caring.

There will always be the disaffected among America’s youth. The juveniledelinquents of the 1950s, interested in stealing cars or robbing liquor stores, have evolved into the young thug, whose head is filled with videogame violence, race hatred, violent music and the conviction that they don’t care – about themselves or anyone else.

The ready availability of guns, drugs and violent influences certainly contributes to such outbreaks by those emotionally and morally crippled young people.

How can we reach these children and hopefully turn aside the chance that a tragedy such as the one at Columbine High School could happen here? There are not any sure answers. But one is certain: Our children must bereached. They must learn there are alternatives to a violent lifestyle.Love is the answer, and it must be applied well and accepted. Discipline isalso necessary, with fairness and firmness. Parents must know theirchildren, and they must know their hearts. Parents must see what they arereading, playing and talking about. They must know what their favoritewebsites are. They must know who their children admire.Children must learn that disagreements do not always end in gunplay.

Offenses and insults do not have to be deadly. Virtue is not a vice.There is much work to be done by each and every one of us if we are to prevent another tragedy, if we are ever to wake up from the nightmare of Columbine High School.

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