The Most Dangerous Pandemic Threatening Children is Bad Parenting

school violence parenting
Screenshot YouTube : WRAL

Earlier this season, like every year, we went to our family physician for flu shots. My husband, seven-year-old daughter, and four-year-old son lined up military-style and got our annual jab to protect us from the flu.

The COVID pandemic had parents terrified that their children would get infected and possibly die. Now, there are growing concerns of yet another sickness making the rounds, this time targeting children.

The sad truth is what threatens to kill our children faster than a virus isn’t something they could breathe in from across the ocean or even manufactured in a lab somewhere. What threatens the safety of our children is ourselves, parents who have either lost their way or never really understood the purpose of parenting.

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How does this happen?

Last month, a fight at Southeast Raleigh High School resulted in the hospitalization of one teenager, the death of another, and possible adult jail time for a third. During a brawl that appears to have started in the hallway and moved into the gymnasium, a 14-year-old boy stabbed wildly at other boys who were kicking and punching him.

This resulted in a 16-year-old having to be hospitalized due to his injuries and a 15-year-old dying. The mother of the 14-year-old boy who could be charged with murder as an adult said:

“The whole situation is terrible. I feel bad for the other family, but in return, I feel bad for my son because he was fighting for his life. It wasn’t a fair fight. I just don’t think it should have happened like that.”

The mother claims that her son must’ve gotten the knife in school, insisting he didn’t leave home with a knife. The Superintendent of Wake County Public Schools, where this high school resides, Robert Taylor, said:

“Every parent in this district puts their trust in us when they send their child to school. All acts of violence in our schools are unacceptable.”

Both the mother and the superintendent raised interesting and valid points. The video certainly makes it appear that this was not a fair fight, and it is also disturbing how many other teenagers were around the fight, catching it on video with their phones and goading the fight along.

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A few questions come to mind. Why did this fight happen in the first place?

Is it the result of repetitive bullying? Where were school officials, such as teachers, resource officers, and administrators, at the time?

This unfortunate, heartbreaking event most definitely never should’ve happened at all, let alone “like that,” as the mother of the 14-year-old describes. It’d be comforting to believe this sort of violence is a one-off incident, but it is not.

Lights, Camera, Fight!

You don’t have to dig too deep to find videos of violent fights in schools on social media. A quick search will bring up massive brawls from high school students down to elementary school kids duking it out in schools, on buses, and in the parking lots of their schools.

Some common themes start to materialize. There tends to be more than one aggressor beating up one kid, and there are lots of other kids surrounding the melee with smartphones ready to record the action.

Are these fights over anything of substance? Doubtful, as most physical altercations, regardless of the age of participants, are unnecessary.

Instead, this performative violence is one of many ways in which children choose to attract attention and attach some meaning or identity to their personas, and it is essentially the fault of the parents. Even former Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot put ownership on parents when teenagers took over Chicago in a violent night of looting and fighting.

The likes, shares, and notoriety these juvenile delinquents receive when their lame version of Fight Club goes viral fills the void of attention they are missing from those who should guide them on their journey into adulthood. A recent OnePoll survey found that three out of five parents admit they spend more time on their electronic devices than their kids.

On average, these parents spend five hours daily on their phones and tablets compared to the less than four hours they spend doing meaningful activities with their children. No wonder kids are looking towards destructive means to get any validation; their parents are too busy “phubbing” them – the act of ignoring your children’s needs in favor of engaging with your phone.

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Do your job

A Pew Research Center survey found that 40% of parents are “extremely to very” worried that their child will struggle with anxiety or depression. The truth is everyone at some point works with some level of anxiety and some level of depression.

Anxiety is a natural response to things that make us uncomfortable. Depression is a natural response to feeling down about a situation.

It’s when we can’t identify the anxiety and depression and move out of that state into a different emotional state that allows us to move on and overcome that it becomes an issue. This skill is called resilience, and parents don’t impart this skill to their children because many parents don’t have it themselves.

Millennials like me and Gen Z’rs are products of the beginnings of helicopter parenting, which has now turned into bulldozer parenting. The idea is parents who follow these terrible practices believe it is their job to protect their child from any discomfort and remove any obstacles that may be in their child’s path.

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But real life is uncomfortable and full of obstacles. It was never meant to be easy; life was never meant to come with bumpers like bowling to ensure you always hit your targets.

What we’ve done by being absentee parents on the one end of the spectrum and overprotective entitlement parents on the other side is molded a generation of young Americans who lack the ability to feel self-worth, pride, and perspective. And as in the case of the three North Carolina teenagers, it has ended and destroyed their lives.

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Stop lying to yourselves

The same Pew Research Center survey found that 16% of parents believe they are doing an “excellent” job, and 48% believe they are doing a “very good” job at parenting. The spike in school violence, mental health issues, and the corresponding decrease in test scores shows that parents are diluting themselves into believing their poop doesn’t stink.

Part of this delusion parents have that they are not at fault and doing a great job at raising the next generation of American leaders can be seen in this next part of the survey. When asked about the importance of being a parent in the aspect of who they are, 30% said it was the most important aspect of their identity, and a staggering 57% said it was merely one of the most important aspects.

Make no mistake: when you decide to bring a life into this world, being a parent is your single most important job. Yes, I am a writer, a veteran, a wife, and a journalist… but my primary duty on this Earth is to my children.

Having a kid means more than loving them, taking cute pictures, and providing them with a life better than the one you had. Becoming a parent means you agree to mold a future citizen that will better society and their community, and hopefully make the same commitment to their children in the future.

Until parents start taking their jobs seriously, I’m afraid more children will have their lives ruined as they aimlessly attempt to find their place in the world.

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USAF Retired, Bronze Star recipient, outspoken veteran advocate. Hot mess mom to two monsters and wife to equal parts... More about Kathleen J. Anderson

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