What Are We Teaching Kids About Morals? —A Mother Writes To Patch

In a letter to the editor, Kat McClanahan says she is upset that no one contacted law enforcement when someone stole her son's scooter.

An incident occurred last Friday that has really caused me to stop and think about what we are teaching the youth in our community about the difference between right and wrong, legal and illegal and good and bad.  My son, a student at OPMS, rode his brand new scooter from the school to the Boys’ and Girls’ Club at Collier Park on E and 7th Streets in Ramona.  He parked the scooter just outside of the club at the bike rack by the club’s sign, assuming it would be a safe place to keep it.  Now, keep in mind that this was the first day ever that he has taken a scooter to the club, so he didn’t know where to put it other than there and didn’t have a lock for it.  He parks his bike and scooter outside of our home repeatedly and we never have a problem.  We live in a relatively safe town, right?

A staff member for the club says she saw the scooter out there when she came in at 4:30.  Now, if there was a problem with parking an unlocked scooter at this rack, wouldn’t a responsible adult think to ask if one of the kids inside the club had put it there and suggest that he bring it into the club??  She didn’t.  When my son’s step-mother picked him up just 20 minutes later, the scooter was gone.  It had been stolen in that short time.  This was a brand new scooter, with blue hand grips that he had received from his aunt for Christmas.  It was the first time he was allowed to bring it to school and take it to the club.  Here’s why I am upset and left wondering what we are teaching our kids.

I went to the club yesterday to inquire about why the sheriff was not called to report this crime.  Yes, it may be petty theft, but it is still a crime.  The staff members immediately defended themselves by saying that “the club is not responsible for lost or stolen items” as if it had been rehearsed as part of their training.  I looked at them with absurdity and asked, “Really? You don’t think that the authorities should be called when a crime has been committed and that it’s not a moral responsibility as citizens of our community to report such a thing??”  No.  I was told that since my son left it outside that there was no way they could possibly be responsible for what happens, and furthermore, they told me that even if they would have called, that the sheriffs would not have shown up for such a small crime.  Unbelievable!

Again, I was flabbergasted that these adults were standing securely behind their excuses and putting the sole responsibility on a 12 year old child.  They were actually blaming HIM for the scooter theft, instead of helping him learn a valuable lesson of morality by calling the sheriff to report the crime.  What does this teach everyone?  Well, the way I see it is that first, it taught the criminal that it’s okay to steal in our community because no one will do anything about it.  Second, it teaches the kids who are aware of the situation that they, too, can steal and no one will do anything about it.  Lastly, it teaches the kids – and my son in particular – that if a crime has been committed against you, it is surely YOUR fault, not the act of the criminal committing the crime.

Where have basic moral teachings gone?  I have talked with my children and explained to them that this crime was NOT my son’s fault and that an entire group of grown-ups, including his step-mother, have let them down by not taking a stand against a criminal.  The sad part is that this criminal will steal again.  And again.  And again.  I mean, what are you going to do about it?

Kat McClanahan
Outraged Mother of Four
Resident of Ramona for 8 ½ years

Kat McClanahan March 09, 2012 at 05:37 AM
Maria, I hope your son grows up more compassionate than you are. With your words "buy him a chain and lock and lock that shit or bring it inside. grow up and stop being a sore loser" it makes me wonder if you kid brought home a stolen scooter, would he be praised?
Anonymous March 09, 2012 at 05:47 AM
We teach our children in our schools about the "Due Process". It is part of the legacy our forefathers past on when they started a revolution against a king and the tyranny that was brought over. To not practice at home what is taught in the schools is ludicrous. That, i believe is what Kat is saying.
Kat McClanahan March 09, 2012 at 05:48 AM
I have to say that I am surprised, yet Carl and Maria's responses prove to me why I even had to write my letter - people in our society arent' concerned with moral obligation of reporting a crime. That's ok....I will teach my children just as I do with everything else. I will continue to teach them that when a lady walks toward a door, a gentleman opens it for her; I will continue to teach that when our American flag passes in a parade, that they are to rise to their feet, put their hands on their hearts and remove their hats; I will continue to teach them that when an injustice has happened that it is our moral obligation to help. These are CHILDREN we are talking about.....and I will always teach them what is right, even if it isn't "popular."
Maria Lopez March 09, 2012 at 05:49 AM
I dare my child to bring stolen things to my house! My child has more morals then THAT! Reporting a crime of a scooter is very unlikely. As a business professional i would of done the same thing and not reported it.
Kat McClanahan March 09, 2012 at 05:50 AM
What is your business so I am sure not to patronize it?
Douglas Scholl March 09, 2012 at 06:41 AM
I think a lot of people have missed the mark on whats trying to be conveyed. If we all look away at what point do we take action? When it's a felony, when it's a kidnapping and sexual assault, when it's a murder. I love the quaint small community feel of Ramona, and why I choose to live here. I would hope my neighbors would not place blame, but look to solutions, for each to preserve common good and decency. Without a doubt crime exists in Ramona, to what extent is the responsibility of all it's citizens. If we choose to ignore or to place value on the crime, an increasing crime rate is only ALL of ours to be blamed for.
Maria Lopez March 09, 2012 at 07:01 AM
Real Estate, Kat McClanahan
Anne P March 09, 2012 at 03:02 PM
Maria & Carl- It is also the "responsibility" of parents to teach their kids the difference between right and wrong. Obviously the lesson seems to be lacking.
JOB March 09, 2012 at 05:40 PM
True a crime was committed, but read our local paper, thefts occur daily. YOU should have sent your son with a lock and armed with knowledge that thieves are everywhere.
Beth Edwards March 09, 2012 at 06:26 PM
My son's bat was stolen from the baseball field yesterday during practice. (It's blue, just in case it came home with the scooter.) My seventeen-year-old just shrugged it off as part of life in our current society. He was angry to lose a bat, but felt that there is nothing to be done about it, since he didn't see which kid stole it so he could take care of it himself. Obviously, from the comments above, this sounds like how society looks at this.... as a bother and the victim's fault. I feel your pain Kat! It is a poor reflection on society and how we handle ALL of the "minor" crimes. If a kid gets away with stealing a scooter or a bat, he'll try bigger items next. Lock your cars and doors!
Maria Lopez March 09, 2012 at 07:38 PM
Kat And the rest of her followers! I'll call the local news Stations later on today and have a news conference about this scooter and the heinous act of an entire group of grown-ups, including his step-mother, have let them down by not taking a stand against a criminal, and not having self conscience on calling the ramona sheriff. i hope this will put your mind at ease and capture this horrible thief in ramona!
Farmers March 09, 2012 at 08:00 PM
Kat get a better hobby then trying to trash ramona residence!
Anne P March 09, 2012 at 08:09 PM
Wow "Dawna".......your rant seems very personal as if you have first hand knowledge into the mindset of those involved maybe? What kind of person does that make you to publically smear someone on the Patch? Look out Ramona......there are worse people living in this town then just petty thieves!
Dave Patterson March 09, 2012 at 08:11 PM
I am thinking that no one should be allowed to make comments on the patch without also disclosing their real name. That would help us tone down the rhetoric. How about we have mandatory watching of at least one episode of The Happy Painter, before we can write in here?
Anne P March 09, 2012 at 08:23 PM
Yeah Kat...don't you dare trash the petty theives of Ramona.......LOL! Anyone else want to make judgement and smear someone.....don't hide behind a "Faux" name cause that just makes you a coward & not credible.
Julie Pendray March 09, 2012 at 08:26 PM
One comment has been deleted from this stream. We reserve the right to moderate the comment streams. Patch is not the place to post personal details of anyone's lives. The discussion is about the general issue of where adult responsibility begins and ends regarding children and crime in public places and whether there are changes in the way we look at that compared to decades past. Let's keep it there. While we never like to block participants from using Patch, we will do that if necessary.
Julie Pendray March 09, 2012 at 08:29 PM
Actually several comments have been deleted at this point.
Julie Pendray March 09, 2012 at 08:38 PM
Thanks Beth. Another Ramona mom contacted Patch about her son's baseball bat being stolen a few weeks ago. She had just bought it the night before, for several hundred dollars. The crime logs at the Sheriff's Department do indicate vandalism and theft, mostly from cars, are an issue in Ramona, as in other towns, so the discussion is valuable, concerning how society looks at petty theft regarding children, in particular, and what we ought to teach children about this. Thank you for helping us keep the conversation there, with useful information.
Kat McClanahan March 09, 2012 at 08:48 PM
Dawna...I'd love for you to contact me personally....unless you'd prefer not to know the truth.
Kat McClanahan March 09, 2012 at 08:50 PM
I've been going about business today not worrying about what is going on with the comments here....It does shock me that there are people who feel taking something that doesn't belong to you is ok. At least now I have a much clearer picture of what I DON'T want to teach my children to be like.
Kat McClanahan March 09, 2012 at 09:01 PM
Thank you, Hilaire! Some people prefer not to learn facts.....five years later still want to believe lies and heresay....sad.
Michelle Aguilar March 09, 2012 at 09:05 PM
i live next to the park... my car was broken into and mystereo stolen... We live in a nice town, but its far from safe, and anyone living under that assumption deserves what happens. My son attends opms and he had a bicycle stolen from the bike racks, the school is not responsible. i dont hold them responsible. its their job to teach my child and keep him safe. yes its tragic, but thats life. my children also attend the boys and girls club and have for several years. i have seen the bike racks and i also know that its a public park. if the scooter had been left inside the gate i doubt it would have been stolen. the staff do a fantastic job and the children are happy and safe. i have also read the parent handbook where it clearly states they are not responsible for stolen items. it is terrible that it happened, but having a fit and bashing people and places isnt going to make it better. this whole comment session itself should be a life lesson learned for all.
Anne P March 09, 2012 at 09:30 PM
Ok..lesson learned from the latest post: If you are "under the assumtion that you live in a safe town you deserve what happens". Seriously?? So along that line of thinking, if you wear a skimpy skirt or top you deserve to get molested??? OMG....FAIL!
Michelle Aguilar March 09, 2012 at 09:46 PM
all im saying that the world isnt exactly safe, and being naive doesnt help. I thought we were discussing theft not molestation.... parents should teach their children the reality of life, not fantasy. everyone is entitled to there opinion and if you feel the need to put them down or bash them, then you honestly have a problem. bad things happen everyday and they can happen to anyone. bottom line. blame games dont teach children morals.
JOB March 09, 2012 at 11:16 PM
Why is it being assumed the theft was a juvenile?
Terri Linnell March 10, 2012 at 01:13 AM
Dave Patterson March 10, 2012 at 04:50 AM
You haven't seen the blogs that were deleted apparently! Otherwise you wouldbe shocked I think.
macy March 10, 2012 at 04:12 PM
Dear Outraged Parent, I am sorry the scooter was stolen. I am also sorry that when this expensive gift was purchased, a lock wasn't given and expectations were not clearly given. I'm sorry your son lost his gift but more sorry that one did not explain responsibility of taking care of things. Two people are responsible for this incident: the theif and the outraged mom. I'm also sorry that media was the outlet chosen because now, I'm sure, your son will also be embarrassed.
Mike March 11, 2012 at 03:21 PM
I agree with Carl. Seems like this is a good lesson to your kid not to leave his things lying around. The only lesson about morals I see here is that he learned that there are people without them. While the "fault" that your worried about here is not totally your kids, he is partly to blame, and maybe you as well for not teaching him better. The world is not a pretty place and will probably not get any better. But while we all are holding hands singing world peace songs hoping for the world to change for the better teach the kid to secure his personal items better. Be thankful it was only a scooter and not something more pricey or even the kid himself. I'm not sure why no one at the club offered to call the sheriiff, but it's probably true that with a small crime like this they would not have showed up anyway as I'm sure they had bigger fish to fry. You can always go to the station and file a report. As to this being a safe town, I agree it's safer than others around, but it's not Mayberry by any stretch.
The wicked bitch March 13, 2012 at 12:51 AM
Quit bitching about a scooter, just buy your son a lock next time and all your problems will be solved. If you would actually READ the manual before you sign up for the club it clearly states, "The club is not responsible for any missing or stolen items." if your that worried about it, and want to get the authorities involved... THEN YOU DO IT. Because once again, the club is not responsible for your sons missing or stolen items. As for the criminal or criminals, what are you gonna do to teach him a lesson? Chase him down when you have no idea who he even is? Don't blame the club and YOU take some responsibility.


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