Allegations that third-graders hatched an elaborate plot to knock out, handcuff and stab their teacher were met with shock by neighbors and with doubt by psychiatry experts who said it is unlikely that children that young seriously intended to hurt anyone.
Police say the plot at Center Elementary School began because the children, ages 8 to 10, were apparently angry after the teacher disciplined one of the students for standing on a chair.
Students brought a crystal paperweight, a steak knife with a broken handle, steel handcuffs and other items as part of last week's plot, police said Tuesday. They said nine students were involved, but prosecutors are seeking juvenile charges against only three of them.
Experts said children that age are certainly imaginative and capable of creating elaborate games. But Dr. Louis Kraus, a child psychiatry expert at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, said he doubts they would have actually attacked.
It continues in that vein to leave the impression that the writers think this is an unusual and isolated incident. It is not. Just a few days before another group of kids about the same age were in the process of hatching a plot to kill their teacher in a public city school in Manhattan. This one didn't make the news, but I can report it here, because I know the teacher.
And now, just last evening my neighbor's teenaged son was mugged. The neighbor's email reads, in part
He was walking home from his girlfriend's house at 11:30 pm . A car (new Lexus) with 5 boys drove up, they jumped out of the car and surrounded him. They had baseball bats and golf clubs. All he had was his cell phone which they took. They did not believe that he didn't have anything else, so they patted him down. They also wanted his shoes, but didn't take them when they found out they weren't expensive ones.
He called 911 as soon as he got home. The police were there very quickly. They caught the guys at the Shell station by Lucky.
When they were caught they had a trunk full of shoes and other stolen goods. They confessed to the mugging and were linked to other crimes. They had been cruising PLS neighborhoods looking for open garages and people to steal from.
Two of them were over 18 so were taken to jail the other 3 were juveniles.
"Why can't the English teach their children how to speak?" laments Henry Higgins in the musical comedy, My Fair Lady. To which I reply, why can't the Americans teach their children how to behave?
What are we teaching our children? Where are they getting these ideas? Are we exposing morally immature minds to crime shows like The Sopranos, and Law & Order? Or are we simply not paying attention while they form their own little violent tribes or gangs, partly in cyberspace, partly all too really in this world?
William Golding knew what kids will do when left without close and powerful adult supervision. They act uncivilized because they are uncivilized. It takes constant effort on the part of their parents and their society to civilize children, and that effort must last for the first 18 to 25 years of the children's lives. If you don't know what I mean, go to your local library and check out a copy of Golding's short novel, Lord of the Flies.
I've read many pieces on the decline of the West, most of which are bulls--t, and none of which put their finger on one inescapable truth. If you want to have a civilization, you must civilize your kids. And don't assume you can delegate the task to your schools (which are overwhelmed with uncivilized kids) or even your churches.
So to the educators, psychiatrists, and parents out there: Get out of your denial, get control of your kids, and socialize them to norms of decent behavior. Otherwise, it will be every one for himself, and us aging boomers will have no choice but to get concealed-carry permits.