Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 9, 1999

Lee Dresselhaus / L’Observateur / June 9, 1999

So..I’ve avoided writing anything on this subject to this point for a coupleof reasons. One is simply that every social philosopher out there with aword processor and a forum for his opinion (like a column for instance) immediately, loudly and self-importantly jumped on this particular media bandwagon. I just don’t have a herd mentality and I try to avoid writingwhat everyone else is pounding to death. And, two, I don’t like the subject,but I saw something on the news that made me want to express something that others seem to be missing or are deliberately ignoring.

I’m talking about the school shootings issue, and school violence in general. And I want to address one aspect of it that seems to have gottensome mild attention, but for the wrong reasons.

It seems that some of the kids involved in school shootings in different parts of the country have something in common besides being junior-grade homicidal maniacs. At least three of the kids were on the behaviorsuppressing drug ritalin. That’s the stuff that modern parents, based onthe learned opinions of those with medical degrees, give to their children when they are difficult to control.

And that, friends, is what’s wrong in a nutshell, with the emphasis on the nut part.

In August of last year I wrote a column about ritalin and how the children who are diagnosed with what is termed a “behavioral disorder” have it shoved down their throats by doctors and parents who don’t hesitate to chemically control a child, but who are horrified at the thought of physical discipline. These people have decided that spanking a child iswrong, but stuffing mind-altering drugs down their throats because you can’t control them is not. I expressed the opinion that they are politically-correct morons and if they would try parenting instead of drugging a child into submission which would probably include a swift kick to the kids backside applied judiciously and on an as-needed basis, the “behavioral disorders” and that new, wonderful condition, “attention deficit disorder” would most likely magically disappear in the majority of the cases.

Stuffing drugs down a kid’s throat is not an answer to bad behavior.

I love being right.

Just take a look at some of those school shooters. They seem to be from atleast middle class families and in some cases lived in houses that a lot of people can only drive by and dream about. So, what was their problem?Glad you asked, because being the opinionated little jerk that I am, I have an answer for you.

Their problem is that too many parents don’t parent. They listen to theopinion of doctors, counselors and psychiatrists who can afford to do whatever they want with their kids, including private schools, tutors and all the toys and distractions the kids will ever want. They come to theselearned ones and say, “Oh, doctor, my kid is a holy terror. He acts up inschool and I can’t control him at home. What will I do, what will I do?”And the doctor or shrink or whatever says, “Here! Give him these mind- altering medications! This will chemically control him so you won’t have to!” And they go away and begin to stuff chemical restraints down their kid’s throats so they won’t have to miss their golf or bridge or whatever.

Just once, when a parent went to a doctor or shrink and said they couldn’t control Junior and has glued the cat to the roof of the car (again), I’d like the doctor to look at them and say, “So kick his little butt until he hollers uncle! Now, get out of my office and go be a parent!” Behavioral disorder, my foot. Attention deficit disorder. Yeah, right. I’vesaid it before and I’ll say it again. In most cases the kid has an attitudeproblem, not a disorder. Tell you what. If you ignored your teachers anddisregarded parental instructions in what would be called an attention deficit disorder these days, the parents of my generation had something to get your attention, and right quick, too. And once they explained theirpoint of view to you, the “disorder” disappeared in a puff of sudden understanding, all without chemicals. Oh, but that can harm the child’sdelicate psyche, the politically-correct crowd whines. Guess what, Zippy?Nobody went to school and shot up their classmates then. It happens withalarming, shocking frequency now. Do the math. Okay, and before the same crowd as last time again starts hollering that I’m advocating child abuse let me just say this to them. Shut up. I’madvocating parenting, not abuse. There’s a huge difference betweenreasonable parental discipline and child abuse. And in my opinion stuffingchemicals down their throats and not parenting them is the real abuse.

Look at the results.

And one last little point..is it just possible that reasonable parentaldiscipline can show a kid that his parents care, and they’re watching? Looking back I realize that mine did, and were.

However painful that was for me from time to time.

Lee Dresselhaus is a regular columnist for L’Observateur

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