A tragedy that brings to mind a dilemma

My turn

Posted: Thursday, July 12, 2001

It bothered me how much the story of the terrible accident in Anchorage on the morning of July 10 bothered me. I can do callous with the best of them, and I usually evaluate those tearful human tragedies by the standard of how the "victim" would rate in the next Darwin Awards. I generally subscribe to Einstein's notion of the infinity of human stupidity. But, I just could not shake my thoughts of what the parents of those dead teen-agers must be going through.

First I said, "what in the world were those teen-aged girls doing out with older boys at four in the morning?" Then I thought, "there but for the grace of God go I" for one night last year my own teen-aged step-daughter was only a matter of minutes and a truly horrible fight with her mother from being a statistic in one of Juneau's perennial Eaglecrest Road tragedies. By all rights our girl should be dead because my wife should never have won that fight. In today's world, a parent simply cannot stop a 16-year-old from doing something that he or she really wants to do. Maybe we did something right before the schools and the "it's not my fault" popular culture took over her life.

I really don't know anything about those kids who died on the Glenn Highway other than what I read in the Daily News. Maybe they were out because their parents were lost in drugs, alcohol, or millennial self-absorption, but maybe they were out because their parents, no matter how much they cared, just couldn't stop them. The schools are always whining that all their achievement and discipline failures stem from irresponsible parents, but I've met more than a fair share of truly rotten kids who come from loving, responsible parents. I know to a moral certainty that the same teacher who would blame me if one of my kids skipped school or didn't do his homework would be the first to report me to the Kid Nazis if I spanked one of them or sent them to their room without supper as punishment for the misdeed. If the state deprives us of authority over our children, how can it continue to hold us responsible for them? Which question brings me to the point of this musing.

At least some of those dead kids are icons of the failure of Ed schools, the social "sciences," and the juvenile "justice" system. How in the world could someone with the 19-year-old driver's criminal record be free and out on the road? I'm sure that kid had one hell of a lot of self-esteem, but he had not one shred of impulse control or responsibility. It should be obvious to any observant adult that the "there is no such thing as a bad kid" ideology has failed. I don't want to go back to the good old days of whacking hell out of them if they look at you crossways, but telling them that they're wonderful no matter what they do seems to be even more destructive. How many more kids and police officers have to die before schools, social workers, Ed school professors, and judges admit that children need adult supervision?

Art Chance of Juneau is a parent and a labor relations specialist for the state.

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