Affluenza…You’re Kidding, Right?

This past week in Texas, a 16-year-old boy was sentenced to 10 years probation and a stay in an alcohol rehab center in Newport Beach.  What did he do, you ask?  This past June he and a couple of friends stole beer from a nearby grocery store, went out and got drunk at a party, and then sped off in his truck, only to get in a car accident and kill four people.

CNN Video News Coverage

See the full news article at http://www.cnn.com/2013/12/11/us/texas-teen-dwi-wreck/index.html?hpt=hp_t2

He took four lives and he got ten years probation; no jail time at all.  How does that work?  He was charged with four counts of vehicular manslaughter and driving under the influence.  His defense team did the unexpected.  They argued that it wasn’t the boy’s fault, in fact, it was his parent’s fault because they had not set boundaries and limits for him and he was too accustomed to life as an affluent member of society.  Really?  A psychologist that argued for the defense said he suffered from “affluenza”.  What affluenza is, I can only guess.

 GUESS ONE: the illness of being to affluent

GUESS TWO: like dementia, but for wealthy people when they forget that laws and rules still apply to them

GUESS THREE: a highly contagious disease that infects young, wealthy people, who have grown up with parents who stink at parenting

So what I’m hearing them saying is that because of poor parenting, this boy, who was perfectly capable of making decisions on his own, gets off basically Scot free, because he never “knew” that rules apply to him?   Or is it because he has money and is affluent that he got off so easy, compared to the 20 years that at stake?  Dare I suggest that the case might have turned out different had the boy not been white?

The sad part is that our judicial branch has strayed so far from the way the Founding Fathers wanted it, and has been for so long, that as infuriating as this case is; it doesn’t really surprise me.  We have seen for a long time that, even though it shouldn’t, money can get you out of most anything.  How else do Lindsay Lohan and many of the other celebrities that  are always getting in trouble, stay out of jail?  The bottom answer, under all the courthouse jargon, is money, pure and simple.  Money is power.  And power can keep you protected from a lot of things.

I honestly can’t even suggest a possible solution to this problem, we are so deep into this black hole of corruption that we have dug.  All I can say is, it stinks.  I’m sure all the friends and family of the four people killed in the accident would agree that it is awful when you lose someone close to you because of someone else’s careless mistake.  But it is like a slap in the face and fresh lemon juice on a cut, to have the person who made the mistake not have to take ownership over his mistake, because he has too much money.  I bet that feels pretty darn terrible.

A Breakfast with Champions Update

Just a quick update on our twenty percent project, Breakfast with Champions, that was published in the OC Register. The response we got back has been amazing and we cannot wait to interview more veterans.

Breakfast with Champions

Two weeks ago we got our project published in the OC Register newspaper. It was by pure chance that they were there the same day we were, but we are so thankful that they were kind enough to take interest in our project and interview us. Take a look!

OC Register Veterans

 

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You Need to Stop Now

thumper

I have had it.  Why can’t everyone be like Thumper in Bambi? “If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.”  With all the awareness on bullying, and the huge anti bullying campaign that schools are putting on, you would think educators would learn to filter what they say to students and not become part of the bullying problem.  Now, I don’t expect them to be perfect angels and always say the right thing and never be inappropriate ever.  That would be hypocritical of me, because I sometimes let something pass through my speech filter that shouldn’t have.  What I do expect them to do is to apologize.  Whether it be better individually or in front of the class, they should say sincerely, “I was wrong about saying this to Polly.  I was completely rude and out of line, and I am sorry for hurting you with my words.”

Too many times this is not the case though.  If they even think to say that they are “sorry”, it is a fake apology and just makes the student more hurt, or they just don’t stop to think that what they said was really hurtful.  Then the teacher goes on with life, never knowing that what they said sent a little girl home in tears and made her insecure.  Most people would feel awful, if they knew their words caused insecurity and tears.  I know I would, most definitely.

There are three parts to this problem: students, teachers, and parents; and I will address each one individually.  But the root of the problem is poor communication or lack there of.  Now, don’t think I am this brilliant communicator that has no problem letting people know when they have hurt me, and am not afraid of the repercussions of speaking up.  I am not, by any means, that vocal person.  I have suffered through two years of certain people hurting me with their actions and their words.  I didn’t say anything because of fear of repercussions and fear of being treated differently because I stood up for myself and said, “This is enough and it needs to stop now.”  I regret not saying anything now.  Who knows if it would have helped or not, but at least they would know about the pain they put me through.

First off, to the hurt students.  Have you ever thought about telling the teacher that hurt you that they hurt you?  Yes, it will be considered an “awkward” conversation, because that means you have to talk about your feelings.  Why has society made it so socially unacceptable to show people your emotions?  Especially if they have hurt your feelings! But that is a rant for a whole separate blog post, so I will save you from that.  Have you ever thought of telling your parents what is going on?  I know, some people aren’t as fortunate and don’t have the utterly amazing parents that I do, that will be there for me no matter what, and who will stand up for me whenever it’s needed.  But, I encourage you to find someone to tell!  It can be anyone that would be willing to stand up for you!  A friend’s parent, an older sibling, a relative, just someone who can have your back. I want you to seriously consider telling the person that hurt you how it made you feel, because most likely they didn’t intend to make you feel that way.

Second, to the parents of hurt children. LISTEN to your kids.  Watch them, spend time with them, and be someone they will come to when they are hurt, so you can help them.  The only reason my parents didn’t speak up and go to the school about it, was because I didn’t want them too and they didn’t want to sacrifice the trust I had in them, by going behind my back.  Respect your kids opinion, don’t be pushy about it, but let them know that what the person did to them was wrong and it would be a very good idea for them to be told how much it hurt. Documentation is key.  For every one person that speaks up, there might be three other people who have been hurt that won’t speak up.  That is how rude teachers get away with being rude.   Don’t force your student to talk to them if they don’t want to, maybe just you need to go in and talk to them or something.  The biggest thing to remember is to not break that trust that your kid has in you in confiding in you.  If you do, it will be very hard to get it back, and most likely they won’t tell you things like that again.  I realize I’m painting a pretty fine line to walk, but just focus on being there for your kid and the rest of the necessary steps will follow.

Lastly, to the teachers.  I realize that most of you aren’t trying to be mean.  You might have just cracked a joke on the wrong day, been agitated and said something you shouldn’t have, or for some other reason, accidentally was mean.  If you have the slightest feeling that your comment could have been taken the wrong way, apologize.  It never hurts to apologize.  If a student or parent approaches you with something you have done or said that was hurtful, try your hardest not to get defensive.  I know it is hard when someone is pointing out one of your mistakes, I struggle with it more often than not.  Listen to them, and apologize sincerely.  Then, learn from your mistake.  If you keep making the same mistake over and over, and people keep talking to you about it, it can cost you your job.  The student is the school’s first priority, so if complaint after complaint is filed about you, then I would hope you would change your ways before it came to firing you, but I am very sure that after you lost your job for being rude to students, you would learn very quickly the importance of not saying rude things to people.

As you can see, this issue is a three-way street.  It beings with parents being there for their kids, so that the kids can go to their parents when they are being bullied.  Then the parents have to decide with their student what action to take, whether to wait and see if it was a one time thing, or if it will happen again.  Communicate with your student, but things only get fixed if there is feedback to either the teacher that is being rude, directly, or to that teacher’s supervisor.  That teacher then can choose to change or not(I recommend change and apologize), but now the rudeness has been documented, so that it can hopefully be stopped, one way or another.  Good communication on all levels is key.  People need to start standing up for themselves, and then hopefully the rudeness and injustices will end.

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