Stop tying parents' hands on disciplineIn the aftermath of...


May 09, 1999

Stop tying parents' hands on discipline

In the aftermath of the tragedy at Littleton, Colo., I have heard several nationally prominent people, including William Bennett, former drug czar, and former Vice President Dan Quayle say that the parents should be held accountable for the actions of the children.

While I agree in general with this sentiment, I also feel that our politicians and others would be well advised to stop handicapping parents when we attempt to correct a child for unacceptable behavior.

Laws exist that mandate parental notification whenever a child seeks medical care for a common cold, but other laws allow a child to obtain birth control, abortions and get treatment for sexually transmitted diseases without parental notification. Some laws actually forbid health care providers from notifying parents in this type of situation. What kind of lunacy is this?

Some states require that parents report runaway children within 24 hours. Try contacting any police jurisdiction to obtain information, pass on suspicions or check on the status of a runaway report.

If you get any cooperation, consider yourself lucky. The police are too busy to truly address the issue of runaways.

In many cases, you might even get a response along the lines of "call the jurisdiction where the original report was filed." If you do, the response then might be, "Don't call us. We will call you if we discover anything." The sad part is that the police really are too busy to deal with this type of problem.

If, like most concerned parents, you seek treatment for a troubled child in the form of counseling, medication or hospitalization and the outcome is less then you had hoped for, do not go to the justice system seeking help; been there, done that. Your efforts will be less than satisfactory unless you are the parent of a child who has actually broken a law.

This is not meant as an indictment of the police, who operate under many idiotic laws that limit their options in dealing with children.

Police do the best they can with limited options.

Laws intended to protect the child have become so convoluted that, they do nothing but handicap parents who are attempting to raise children into mature, intelligent and caring adults.

Many politicians, social workers and other "concerned" people contribute to this nightmare by continuing to limit the options of parents and other authority figures.

Contrary to what many think, providing corporal punishment is not the end of the world. There are times it is, or should be, perfectly acceptable.

I do not subscribe to beating children, but I have never seen a slap on the buttocks result in lifelong anti-social behavior.

Schools should have the authority to discipline unruly children by corporal punishment if other means have failed to get "the child's attention."

If people have difficulty accepting this, they should consider allowing parents to apply corporal punishment at home without the fear of being wrongly accused of "child abuse."

Correcting a child at home is not only a parent's responsibility. It should also be their right. Maybe, just maybe, if this were allowed, some children's public behavior would be more acceptable.

Parents should not look to the teacher, preacher or police to teach our children. Politicians, social workers and counselors should stop with the lunacy that seems to believe that any form of punishment directed at a child is abuse.

Paul A. Piepho, Annapolis

Common-sense limits on guns are needed

Sooner or later, the moderate gun supporters must reject their more radical brethren and join the majority in this country in supporting common-sense limitations on gun ownership.

Let's get by Second Amendment arguments and knee-jerk calls for freedom and try to limit the carnage that the gun industry is foisting on this country.

Just as tobacco's big lies were unearthed, the gun industry will be found to be profiteers of death using "Charlatan" Heston as its cover boy.

Guns for hunting, personal protection and sport shooting can be protected while weapons and bullets meant for death are eliminated.

President Clinton has a common-sense proposal before Congress: background checks, minimum age requirements, banning high capacity clips, child locks, one purchase per month and better regulation of gun show purchases.

How do these limit freedom to hunt or protect oneself?

For the men who equate guns with manhood, grow up. Although the latest school tragedy was perpetrated by disturbed children, their easy access to high-powered, killing weapons made their actions possible.

Until the National Rifle Association stops being the lackey for the gun industry and returns to its roots of protecting and supporting the hunter and sportsman, everyone who pays dues to this organization and does not lobby for change shares the guilt for these mindless deaths.

Alan McAllister, Severna Park

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