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Tuesday, May 31, 2022

A Matter of Convenience

Neither educators nor the media should be raising our children

Peter Langman, Ph.D., compiled a report in 2016 on school shooters – from 1996 and onward – and establishes that a vast majority of shooters suffered severe forms of family disruption and dysfunction, were abuse victims and lacked appropriate fathers. “Out of this sample of 56 school shooters, only 10 (18%) grew up in a stable home with both biological parents. In other words, 82% of the sample either grew up in dysfunctional families or without their parents together (for at least part of their lives).”

Emilie Kao, writing for Heritage in 2018, cited this same research, as well as the work of criminologists Michael Gottfredson and Travis Hirschi, who found the absence of fathers to be one of the “most powerful predictors of crimes.” The key character traits lacking most in violent youth are self-control and empathy toward others – and fathers are role models for their sons in developing such.

The late rapper Tupac Shakur put it this way: “I know for a fact that had I had a father, I’d have some discipline. I’d have more confidence. Your mother can’t calm you down the way a man can. You need a man to teach you how to be a man.”

And no, that doesn’t mean there’s no hope for a single mom or a grandmother raising a son or grandson. It just means it’s harder, and there are thousands of success stories to prove it can be done. But the fact is a great number of our youth are troubled and too maladjusted to sensibly cope with life’s ordinary and daily pressures – father or no father. And in addition, they are growing up in a world that is increasingly deficient in moral leadership.

Is this a surprise to anyone? In the 1990s, beginning with the 1992 presidential campaign, the content of one’s character seemed to matter much less than before. When Republicans sharply criticized Bill Clinton during the 1992 and 1996 elections for his lack of character, the media responded by assisting Clinton in championing, “It’s the economy, stupid.” This mantra became the centerpiece of the debate for winning the presidency of the United States and the basis for defending the same president from impeachment altogether. Character questions concerning marital infidelity, womanizing, draft dodging, drug use and honesty were reduced by the media to bothersome inquiries that supposedly paled in comparison to our country’s economic prosperity (back then).

But what about our moral prosperity? Sadly, this has suffered greatly. The responsibility for this rests squarely on the heads of those who have supported and continue to support the carnival barker-like proposition that “character doesn’t matter.” That God isn’t needed. That the “truth” is whatever you want it to be. That “right” and “wrong” are subjective or a matter of convenience – instead of principle.

But it does matter. There are basic values about “right” and “wrong” that we must all share as a society for us to coexist more peaceably, and they must be taught to our children.

And after the Uvalde murders (and let’s call it “murders” and not “shootings,” as the media prefers to put it. “Shootings” doesn’t adequately describe the unjust, cowardly, selfish and evil act of taking an innocent life.) But after these murders, some are again calling for Congress and state legislatures to “do something” about gun control. But we don’t need more laws or marches. If more gun laws and protests could have solved violent crime, they would have done so long ago.

No, the first step to ending these massacres, drive-by shootings, etc., is for many parents to wake up and realize that educators nor the media alone can be (or should be) responsible for raising our nation’s youth. Even in Hillary’s “village,” we must emphasize again (and again) the values of discipline, respect and honesty, not only by what we say but in what we do.

We cannot be a nation that condones and funds abortions, looks the other way on euthanasia and human rights abuses around the world, glorifies violence in movies and video games – and at the same time wonders why young people don’t value the sanctity of life.

Sure, there’s lots of blame to go around and lots of moving parts that produce the violence in our country. But by ignoring the value of a mother and father in a stable home is to ignore the very point where the “train” almost always leaves the tracks, and by then, it’s often too late.

Louis R. Avallone is a Shreveport businessman, attorney and author of “Bright Spots, Big Country, What Makes America Great.” He is also a former aide to U.S. Representative Jim McCrery and editor of The Caddo Republican. His columns have appeared regularly in 318 Forum since 2007. Follow him on Facebook, on Twitter @louisravallone or by e-mail at louisavallone@mac.com, and on American Ground Radio at 101.7FM and 710 AM, weeknights from 6 - 7 p.m., and streaming live on keelnews.com.

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