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?
Outraged Mother of Four
Resident of Ramona for 8 ½ years