A short visit to England did not afford me any relief from senseless
acts of violence. In Great Britain the accounts of the Littleton
massacre were overshadowed by the recent pipe bombings in London. The
third bomb exploded on Friday evening, April 30. A Soho pub, where many
were celebrating the beginning of the first of two three-day weekends in
May, became the latest scene of devastation. To date, three people are
dead while 65 others were injured, six remaining in critical condition.
Within hours Scotland Yard had arrested the alleged perpetrator, David
Copeland, and brought him before a magistrate. After his arrest British
newspapers described Copeland as member of a "Nazi group" which
disseminated hate and violence.
The English press, like its American counterparts, sought out David
Copeland's family. According to The Daily Telegraph of May 4,
David's father, Stephen Copeland, "breaking down at some points" issued
a statement, which read, "Myself and my family totally condemn the
cowardly and barbaric bombings carried out in London in the last two
weeks. If David is guilty of these awful acts of violence then we also
totally condemn him for carrying them out."
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Here in the U.S. new revelations concerning the Littleton murderers
seem to indicate that law enforcement did not follow up on complaints of
illegal activities against Harris and Klebold. In last week's
I mentioned that the Littleton "community turns a deaf ear when one
child complains about the aberrant activities of others." Well, that
comment was certainly an understatement. Yesterday's New York
Brooke points out how a sheriff's deputy not only took the complaints
about the van break-in, but also took complaints about pipe bombs and
the complaint against the threatened classmate. This lack of
coordination between the Jefferson County Sheriff's office and the
juvenile court has prompted a Denver Post columnist, Chuck
Green, to call on
Governor Owens to investigate the Sheriff's office.
Hindsight may be 20/20, but in today's computerized age, it's hard to
believe that the magistrate and the probation officer never checked the
Sheriff's records. If there is an inquiry, I would hope that not only
the procedures of Sheriff's offices but those of the juvenile court
system are closely examined.
A victim's grief and anger, which naturally follows a tragic event,
are expressed in many different ways. Unfortunately sometimes that anger
only prolongs the anguish. According to the N.Y. Times,
"Patricia DePooter, whose 17-year-old son, Corey, was killed, said that
if law-enforcement blunders had failed to prevent the shootings, she and
other parents would file suit." In addition, Geoffrey Fieger, Dr.
Kevorkian's attorney until last year, stated that his client, the family
of Isaiah Shoals, is planning on suing the parents of the two murderers.
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As a result of the Littleton tragedy parents who were willing to
leave their children to their own devices, are now beginning to see
dangers in everything from student attire to video games to the
Internet. But hedonism is rampant, not only in Littleton, but in
America. What else can explain parents, at Christmas time, fighting over
the latest TV toy? Or parents working slavishly 50 and 60-hour weeks to
give their children designer jeans? Only to find out too late that what
their child truly needs is to be reassured that their parents care about
them. Divorce has not only torn our families apart, but it has changed
the fabric of our society -- turning parent against parent for the
affection and attention of the child.
Yes, today's society is different from the society of the 1950s. But
human beings haven't changed. Children still have the same wants and
needs. And one of those needs is for structure, rules, and
responsibilities. And if parents are not ready to impose their order
upon their children's lives when they are young, there is very little
hope that it will happen during high school years.
Columnist and author Thomas Sowell says, "responsibility and control
go hand in hand." Maybe we are looking for answers in the wrong place.
After all, society can not solve the problem of parental responsibility.
All society can do is allow parents to abdicate their child rearing
responsibility back to society, and when that happens parental
discipline eases to exist. Thus children, big or small, learn that there
are few, if any, consequences for bad behavior.
As a result parents, who desire to take back control of their
children's lives, have turned to home schooling or private schools.
These are parents who prefer their own discipline and their own set of
values, to those of the Children's Defense Fund or Hillary's "Village."
Unfortunately for everyone it was the son of a Handgun Control, Inc.
member, Mark E. Manes, who illegally supplied the TEC-9 to one of the
killers. What Eric Harris, Dylan Klebold, and Mark Manes needed wasn't
provided by their parents, their village or their school. Sadly all are
now suffering greatly.
Our schools should require parents to take responsibility for their
children all year long; not just when a tragedy happens. A tragedy such
a Littleton or the Soho bombing reminds us of the fragility of life. It
should also remind us that having children is an awesome responsibility
that we as parents can not abdicate to the schools or to the village.