It’s been nearly a month since I’ve written. Various reasons for that but mainly, I was torn, really shattered about what had come to light in the suicide of Phoebe Prince. It struck a deep chord and has stayed with me for much longer than I expected.
I can’t say that there’s any good that’s come of this. Nothing in reaction to the case will bring her back or erase the pain of what she went through. We can hunker down and decide to as much as we can as a society to prevent it from ever happening again but that notion leaves me with little hope that the behaviors of the people who rallied to do what they did on a daily basis will change.
I think this struck me so deeply because I feel this is all unchartered territory. There are really no rules for behavior in the realm of cyberspace (by the way, I hate that word along with all words hooked onto “cyber”). There are also few penalties at this time for being a real creepy shit to others on the internet. This forum has evolved in a blink of an eye and we love it, we absolutely love being plugged in at all times, able to update, text, tweet, whatever, you get it, right?
The instantaneous gratification of status updates and contacting who you want when you want is so seductive. It’s logical to segue into making sure our precious children have these tools to keep us parents in that proverbial loop of their safety net. We can know where they are, who they’re with, where they’re going and how to reach them instantly if we fear for their safety. But the reality of that logic is it’s a big fat lie and our kids are using this amazing modern age we live in to create a whole new existence, something most of us never had our hands on when we were in the precious age of high school, middle school, elementary school.
The mastery that children have over these devices and the incredibly quick way they were able to garner the forces of the internet and cyberspace to make it a huge playground for sexting, bullying, lying, cheating still has me dumbfounded. Admit it, you parents, you got your kid a cell phone for safety, not so he or she could take photos of body parts and distribute them to all their friends. Not so they could destroy the reputation and peace of mind of a classmate they don’t like. Never to cheat on a test. You got them a cell phone so they can check in like the good little angels they are, right?
It’s not sitting well with me that there’s a law for teachers to report any incidence of cyberbullying at school. It hasn’t set well with me that the school board, teachers and administration have taken a load of heat for the death of Phoebe Prince. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think they acted appropriately when they were made aware there was something happening. But what is really not sitting well with me is that the parents of the kids who were torturing Miss Prince have kind of been left out of the blame circle.
It’s my expectation that when I send my sons to school that they get an education. I have prepared them for that by setting clear rules about their behavior in school. I have never expected teachers to be the police of my kids behavior. It’s my expectation that when my sons go to school that they learn enough to be able to move on to the next successful phase of their lives.
Clearly that’s not the expectation of the peoples republic of South Hadley, Massachusetts. And now it’s the entire state of Massachusetts! When will there be any time or place to teach if the educators are now the moral and behavioral cops? I have to wonder if I’m the only one seeing this? Where are the blasted parents of the rotten kids who tortured Phoebe Prince into her deciding the only way she could escape her miserable existence was to hang herself in her closet?
I am not saying we should go as an angry mob out to western Mass with pitch forks, I am simply wondering how the responsibility for raising children properly has fallen more and more on the overburdened education system and less and less on those who brought these kids up to this point in life?
To take it further, what do we do with these blasted parents? Well, parents of kids who party in a home where alcohol is served are now held liable for what happens during the raver. It’s made a huge dent in the the amount of parties underage kids are having which has probably saved a number of lives. That type of expected responsiblilty that as a parent, you don’t leave your kid alone for the weekend (no matter how much you believe your kid will be tucked into bed after his/her prayers at 10 p.m.). Parents of kids who bully could be held liable for the pain and suffering of the bullied. Kind of vague, huh? But it can be a way to create more responsibility with the use of cell phones and computers. It can force parents to say, “You will not be able to use this phone or computer if you….” pick your evil deed. It can force parents to consider the thought that their really good kid may be a really bad person in a cyber setting because I think that may be one of the bottom lines: do parents really know what their kids are doing on cell phone and on line? If not, why not? We’re paying for it right?