Friday, October 1, 2010

Who killed Chelsea King?

Chelsea King, aged 17, died a violent and horrible death. The man charged with her murder is John Albert Gardner, a 30-year-old sex offender.

Chelsea King's alleged murderer pled guilty in 2000 to sexually molesting a thirteen-year-old girl. Serving only 5 years of a six-year sentence, the courts decided to allow his release on the condition he wore a global tracking device, until the end of his parole, in the year 2008.

The court-appoint psychiatrist in that case, Dr. Matthew Carroll, warned the court "Gardner would be a continued danger to underage girls." Dr. Caroll urged the maximum sentence of 30 years.

The prosecutors decided to take a plea bargain in the rape of that 13 year old girl, because they claimed they wanted to avoid the "time and trouble of a trial."

If that is not enough to make the blood of parents shoot out of their eyes, it only gets worse. They are now investigating Gardner's involvement in two other attacks on young women.

While I believe that Gardner should die by execution as soon as is feasibly possible, I also think the prosecutors and judge in the case of the rape of a 13 year old girl, should also take responsibility for the damage Gardner has done to entire families.

It is time for us to hold the courts accountable. Because the people involved in Gardners' previous offense did not want to take the time to deal with a trial, a plea bargain put him back out on the streets. The courts are responsible for helping a registered sex offender take the life of Chelsea King.

I want to know if those who let Gardner run loose, have children. How many of them live in the same neighborhood they sent Gardner back out into, to do what he, and others like him, will continue to do before they die.

My heart goes out to the family of Chelsea King. As a parent, I cannot even begin to imagine how they feel about the laziness and indifference of those prosecutors, who in my opinion are accomplices in Chelsea King's murder.

What's the matter with kids today?

If I could start over and go back to the time when my kids were little, I would ban them from watching television and listening to the radio.

I came to this decision while watching the People's Choice Awards last night. As a side note, if I heard Queen Latifah say the word, "peeps", once, I must have heard her say it a dozen times. It was not amusing the first time so you can imagine how annoying it was after a while for me.

The reason I believe that young and old along are unprepared for what is coming, is because we have no moral compass to follow today. I am not a prude or old-fashioned, rather, I am currently in a state of shock and confusion over what I see and hear on the news and on television in general.

On the one hand, we have everyone and anyone, talking about Tiger Woods and his extracurricular activities with women other than his wife. Not to offend anyone, but I do not follow the game of golf simply because it is boring to me, not to the majority of people, but to me. I do know what a genius of a golfer Tiger Woods is, and I know about Arnold Palmer, and some of the other greats, but I do not find watching them play entertaining enough for me.

Apparently, now all of the people who do watch and enjoy the sport, are ready to hang Tiger Woods in the town square and make him wear a shirt with a bright red letter "A" stitched on it. Yes, I understand that he cheated on his wife, and I get that he has had numerous alleged affairs with a number of women. That, however, does not harm me or anyone else in society, except for his wife and children. He has his family to answer to, and no one else. If you want to get angry with him for committing adultery and you want to stop watching him play golf, then that is your decision.

However, I do not think society should banish the man for what he has done. His wife should decide his punishment.

While I understand how people who looked up to Tiger Woods as a role model, now feel betrayed, I hear about Charlie Sheen putting a knife to his wife's throat and think how awful that is. How do people nominate him for an award, while crucifying someone for a lesser crime? I cannot believe or understand what I am seeing. What do the young people think when they see it? How can our society ostracize Tiger Woods, but exonerate and award an actor who already holds the title of 'wife-beater'. What am I supposed to get from that, and how do our young people know wrong from right when they see this type of thing going on?

Now look at what happened last season on American Idol. Fans of the show will understand when I say that it is not often that all three judges on the show seem to agree on one thing, and that is that there was a clear front-runner for the title of American Idol last year. That contestant was Adam Lambert. Never before have so many argued so often over who they thought was better each and every week, as they have over American Idol. Last season, however, the consensus appeared to be that Adam Lambert was the best from the first audition to the last performance of the finale.

When Adam lost the title to Chris Allen, a cute guy with a sweet disposition, a nice voice, but nowhere near in league with the likes of Adam Lambert, everyone I knew and talked to about American Idol, was in complete and utter shock over his loss.

As time went by, rumors spread that when the news broke about Adam Lambert's homosexuality, it caused American Idol viewers to vote for Chris even though they thought Adam deserved to win. No one knows if this is true, but I can give you another example of this type of prejudice that we are not supposed to have as a society anymore.

Gov. McGreevey of New Jersey resigned from his position because of the breaking news story about his affair with another man. There was talk of some blackmail threats from his love interest, which forced McGreevey to resign before they booted him out of office. I felt sorry for the poor guy. We are supposed to be a nation of people who no longer view gay people as different, as deviants, etc., yet a governor is not allowed to be gay and have an affair.

Then move forward to the story of David Letterman, who had affairs with staff members through the years. He is still a talk show host, still has high ratings, and many people watch him still without giving his discretions another thought. Do we believe that people in government have higher standard than celebrities do?

After what I saw last night on the awards show, I do not believe we think that way. Then why did McGreevey have to resign? Why did sponsors drop Tiger Woods as their spokesperson?

Another example of the mixed messages about morals and values our youth today is receiving, also has to do with Adam Lambert, and his performance on the American Music Awards. It was tasteless, vulgar, and offensive to some. Because of the reaction from the public, one of the morning news programs dropped him from the schedule the following morning. A few nights later I watched a popular female artist on another reality show, perform her latest hit. Half of her behind was hanging out of the pack of her outfit, and she was rubbing and grinding herself against the microphone. I did not read or hear anything the next day, about this disgusting display.

A word comes to mind that I have not heard people say in decades, and that word is 'skank'. When a boy or a girl called another girl a skank, when I was in school, it was the worst insult you could throw at them. To me, it meant a dirty person who was also promiscuous, and no respectable boy would ever bring a skank home to meet his parents.

In today's society, skanks are role models for young girls. In my opinion, when the favorite female artist of the 'people', stands on stage to accept her award, and nothing but the incoherent babbling of someone high or drunk, comes out of her mouth, I feel like blood is about to shoot out of my eyes. How can that be someone young people aspire to be like when they grow up? It is frightening.

Decades ago, artists such as Diana Ross and Stevie Wonder walked away with the award. Diana Ross would come out on stage in a beautiful gown, would be elegant and graceful, and belt out the songs as only she can do. Stevie Wonder, not only a musical genius since adolescence, but also an inspiration to blind people all over the world, was humble and gracious and mesmerized the audience with his golden voice. I know people will argue that Diana Ross developed a drinking problem later in life, but she never appeared drunk on stage in front of teenage girls. Today, displaying this type of behavior is amusing and acceptable.

The world we live in today is scary for those who lived through adults telling us that the Beatles were no-talent longhaired weirdoes, and that Elvis was corrupting the minds of teenage girls by shaking his pelvis on stage as he sang. What would we have thought back then if we knew what would be going on in the entertainment world decades later?

Our parents thought we would lose all of our morals by watching the King and the Fab Four. Today people believe what artists do on stage is harmless. What censors allow people to do and say in front of a television audience, convinces me that it will have to end somewhere.

There will have to be boundaries again. How the youth of today will have any moral ground to stand on and measure anything or anyone by, is too frightening to think about now. They will not know how to stop the degradation of morality and it will end badly.

Teachers' Comments about Students

...harmless or lifelong impact?

Everyone most likely remembers one or two comments their teachers made about them in school as children. What they may not understand is how these comments stayed with them, and affected different facets of their lives as they entered adulthood.

Remarks made by teachers can have residual effects on them that last longer than what their parents say about them. This can happens because more often than not, children believe their teachers are more intelligent than their parents are.

The old adage, "You can catch more bees with honey", does not apply when talking about the positive versus negative comments teachers make about their students. Probably without realizing it, teachers do more damage than they know to a child's self-esteem, and to their ability to learn. Teachers believe their negative remarks will help children become better students, but that is rarely the case.

Elementary school reunions have gained popularity in recent years. In elementary school, students attended classes with the same children for nine years, including Kindergarten. Therefore, at these reunions, people not only remember the same teachers, they also recall and compare things their teachers said about them. More attendees at these reunions recollect negative comments than the positive ones.

For example, many teachers may not admit it, but people at one such reunion, remembered their teachers favoring one or more students over the others, for every year they attended school. They used to call them the 'teacher's pet' years ago. These students were normally those who did well in school, had excellent behavior, and participated on a regular basis in the classroom. They were not necessarily the smartest children, however.

The people gathered at the reunion noticed that the 'teachers' pets' fared well in life, had a successful career and many friends. That thought this was especially true if more than one teacher through their grade school years favored the same students. They compared the teachers' favorites to those at the reunion teachers labeled, "mischievous", "lazy", and the crucial tag, "disruptive", year after year.

They felt they went through life carrying those labels, having trouble in their professional and personal lives. They figured they stayed in dead-end jobs because they did not believe they were ambitious enough to do better. They believed that when something went their way, it would not last, so they frequently ended it first.

There was one man who attended his fortieth elementary school reunion that others remembered as being friendly, handsome, and had the ability to make them other students laugh. This man claimed that although he tried his best in school, he felt stupid compared to others. He recalled his fourth grade teacher telling him that he would never do well in school if he kept trying to be popular by being the class clown.

Being clever and able to make people laugh is part of a child's personality. It is not easy to change, especially if the other children enjoy it. When a teacher says something it in that way to a student, the child will not hear, or understand the second part of that statement, and will believe they will 'never do well in school'.

A number of women at the reunion believed that the reason they refuse to hem a skirt or sew a button on to this day, is because their Home Economics teacher criticized their sewing projects.

Still others claimed that because the same teacher laughed at them when they burned pancakes or undercooked eggs, preparing meals is their least of their favorite household chores.

One mother at the reunion recalled how a teacher berated her for unintentionally tearing her paper during an art lesson. The teacher proceeded to shriek at her in front of the entire class, about how much the school spent on supplies. She did say, however, that her revenge on that teacher was having a child now, who is a gifted artist.

Out of these people, there was one woman with a fond remembrance of a statement a teacher made to her. She remembered that a teacher said that she would make a great English teacher some day. She claims that is the reason she has always loved words, and has always enjoyed writing. Sadly, she also remembered it as the first time a teacher had anything nice to say about her, and that that she went through nine years of school before that isolated incident occurred.

That same woman brought an autograph book with her that she received that same year. She showed the remarks made by her Home Economics teacher that she still talks about, with anger, today. The teacher gave her two 'C's' on her last report card, which denied her placement on the honor roll for the first time. Then, to add insult to injury, wrote the following statement in her autograph book, "it is too bad those marks kept you off the honor roll. I hope you do better next year".

If your children come to you and tell you a teacher criticized something they did, be sure to let them know that it is okay if they do not excel at everything they attempt. Let them know they do many other things well, and not to dwell on one the thing a teacher says they do not.

If you do this, your children will accept what the teachers say about them, coupled with what you tell them, and they will learn from the experience. They will move on from the experience instead of it becoming an obstacle for them. They will look forward to their class reunions, and will always wonder how it could be that teachers were so wrong about them.

In conclusion, if you as a parent see negative comments from a teacher about your children, turn them around with a positive spin. Tell your children that you know them better than their teachers do, and explain that the comments do not reflect who they are.

This will certainly have a positive effect on your children's' lives that they will carry with them always.

Teaching Stranger Danger Not Enough Anymore

The recent murders of two little girls within the past few days, one in Florida and the other, in Missouri, prompted me to share my thoughts on this subject.

Nothing brought the subject of missing children to the attention of parents everywhere, like the case of Adam Walsh. Adam went missing on July 27, 1981, from a department store in Florida, and a little more than two weeks later, found murdered. On the day Adam went missing, he was only out of his mother's site for a mere seven minutes. She allowed
Adam to stay with a group of children playing video games as he shopped a few aisles over. Security guards chased the boys for misbehaving and Adam followed the boys out of the store. Seven minutes was all the time a sex-offender needed to lure Adam away.
In the 1980's, authorities handled the case of a missing child differently than they do today. While exhausting theories of running away, hiding, and playing games to scare parents, authorities made parents wait before the real search got underway.
After Adam's case gained national attention, authorities began following different procedures when receiving reports of missing children. Adam's father, John Walsh, is responsible for co-founding the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children in 1984.
In the last twenty-five years since the organization began, changes in ways authorities treat cases of missing children have saved countless lives. The center also gives advice to parents on keeping their children safe.
Parents teach their children not to talk to strangers. They inform them of what to do if approached by people on the street, in the playground, even in the schoolyard. They tell their children to let them know if someone makes them feel uneasy.
In recent years, parents started to explain to their children that people they know could be dangerous as well. Families put strategies in place that every member understood in case of an emergency. Children know what to do if they are lost, they know where to go for help, and parents equip their children with contact information of people they know and trust.
Adults even give children specific instructions for what to do if something happens, such as running in the opposite direction if a car stops and offers them a ride. Parents tell their children to run to the nearest home of a friend. They even go as far as taking their children to self-defense classes, but is all of this enough to keep the children safe.
New problems for parents have come up since the case of Adam Walsh made headlines. Along with the tougher laws for child-predators and sex-offenders, came the question of the violation of civil rights for those who prey on children. Because of this, children are in as much danger as they ever were. Parents still have much to do.
Even with all of the explaining, planning, and warnings, children still go missing. There are far too many children abducted, abused, and murdered despite the good intentions. Those that prey on children watch the same shows as parents do that tell them how to talk to their children about strangers. They are determined to stay ahead of parents and of the authorities. It is time for parents to face the reality of this grim situation.
Five things a parent must do to protect their child:
  1. Never let a young child walk to or from school by themselves
  2. Know where your child is at all times, before, during, and after school
  3. Never be distracted from keeping your eyes on your child at all times when not at home
  4. Never leave your child unattended in crowded areas such as stores, malls, or amusement parks
  5. Meet and get to know all family members of your child's friends
As children get older, it becomes harder for parents to do these things, but there are rules older children must follow. Parents should know where their teens and pre-teens are going, whom they will be with, and what they will be doing, at all times. If at any time the older child does not comply, grounding them might show them how serious you are.
Parents may believe it is difficult or almost impossible to be everywhere, all the time, with their children, if they both work outside the home. The solution to that would be for them to work different hours to ensure someone is home at all times for their children. If that is not possible, then parents have to decide whether having two incomes is more important than making sure their child does not become a victim.
The legal system does not come down hard enough on child-predators. States hesitate to pass laws to protect children, and civil rights groups advocate for these criminals. People who commit these crimes against children will never be upstanding citizens in any community. Parents, therefore, have to be the ones to protect their children against them. Teaching children about stranger danger is a good idea, but it is definitely not enough anymore.

Disrespect is taught and encouraged today

Not only do people today earn disrespect, they teach, and encourage others, to earn it as well.

Children today are growing up in an extremely different world than the one I grew up in, in the sixties. As I get older, I tend to forget many things about my childhood, but one thing I remember is what my parents taught me about respect, who to give it to and when to show it. 

It appears the exact opposite is happening today. My experiences prove that there are no guidelines today for the younger generation to follow, as there used to be. "Respect your elders" was an especially important phrase used by parents. Normally, parents did not have to explain this concept; it was simply something that you did without question.

Today, children question their parents on this and other subjects like the "Golden Rule". This generation wants to know why they have to respect their elders, and they want to know why they should treat people, as they would prefer others treat them.

Another rule in my house was to be on my best behavior when visiting relatives or friends. My parents did not tell me to do this every time we went to visit. I just knew to do it. I did not ask why it was necessary.

My parents also taught me to respect law enforcement, teachers, employers, etc. The behavior of many students, employees, and American citizens today, proves that their parents brought them up to earn and hand out disrespect every chance they get.

Children today are living in a world where the majority of parents believe that if they teach their children to follow certain rules and behave in a certain way, it will stifle their creativity.

While working as a lunchroom aide in a Philadelphia public school, I learned that one of the punishments teachers used to give students, writing 500-1,000 word compositions, was no longer in use because of parents' complaints. Parents claimed this assignment would discourage children from writing later in life.

This is only one example of a punishment parents forced schools to abandon. Teachers lost control of students' behavior in the classroom because parents taught their children to disrespect their teachers.

The numbers of crimes committed by juveniles today have increased. Parents do not teach their children to respect the law and those who uphold it. This leads to a life of crime for many as they enter adulthood.

Parents today also teach their children that employers owe them something and that they do not necessarily have to follow the rules of the workplace. I experienced this first-hand when returning to the workforce after a fifteen-year absence. 

Fellow employees spent a large part of their day on online social networking sites, checking their emails, and browsing the internet. Employers tolerate this behavior for fear of a harassment suit or a charge of discrimination.

Many people today disrespect their bosses by doing everything in the course of an eight-hour workday, except work.

I have had college students ridicule me, criticize me, and argue with me, because I believe in respecting those things my parents taught me to respect. The main things I receive backtalk about are love of God, family, and country. 

The responses I receive from the younger generation make me wonder if their parents taught them anything growing up. I am not saying that the younger generation has to agree with me on every subject, but there are ways to express disagreement without disrespecting the opinion of others, and thereby earning the disrespect of others.

Because of my personal experiences, I strongly believe that people today earn disrespect. I also believe people are encouraged and taught to earn that disrespect, as if it was a virtue equal to patience and tolerance. Today's Golden Rule appears to be, "Do unto others because they will do it to you".