Wednesday, February 15, 2006
When my 7 and 8 year old children are playing they have rules they must follow. Many of these rules are in place for safety reasons. My 8 year old son likes to throw rocks. He's enjoyed throwing rocks since he was a toddler, even before he could walk. He also likes to shoot his dart gun and his bow and arrow (rubber tipped). He knows the rules. He knows he is never to throw or shoot in the direction his sister is standing, or a cat, or any person or living thing. He also knows to never ever throw, or shoot over the cliff, where there is always the chance a vehicle may pass by unexpectedly, or where someone may be strolling by. Neither is he to throw, or shoot in any direction unless he knows, with absolute certainty there is no chance of anyone happening by. HIs sister also shares in the responsibility. She knows, if her brother is throwing, or shooting in a certain direction she is to stay a safe distance away from the "shooting range", BUT, her brother , as the shooter, as the bearer of "arms" is ultimately responsible.
Accidents happen. Children get excited, carried away in the moment. If an accident does happen both children know they do not run off to a corner, around the side of the house, or wherever, and discuss how they might conceal the incident from their parents, or how they might put off reporting the incident in order to embellish or, perhaps lesson the impact of the incident. If they do, and their parents find out, punishment will probably be compounded. No. They are usually up front. There are usually consequences. The weapon of choice is usually confiscated for a time. There may be a "quiet" time, a time of reflection, when there is not a lot of running around outside. Other potentially offending toys and weapons may be off limits for a bit. Prior to the weapon(s) being returned, both children are going to listen to a lecture, a refresher course of sorts on safety. Lessons are learned.
Adults have rules to follow as well. Adults have accidents. They have accidents on the job and at play. If an accident occurs due to rules being broken or dismissed then, normally the adult has to pay a price.He bears responsibility for his actions, even if it was an accident. If an adult, especially an adult in a position of power or a position which may be construed as awe inspiring to a child, someone a child would look up to, then that adult has an even larger responsibility. That adult should not go off, hide in a corner, around the side of the house. That adult should not put off reporting the incident. That adult, as a responsible member of society owes it to everyone, especially the children who look up to him to report the incident in a timely manner. If that adult bears responsibility for the accident then he should say so. He should come right out and say, "I messed up! I did not follow the safety rules. I am sorry." An adult in such a position then has a great opportunity. Not only can he learn a lesson from his mistake but he can teach some very valuable lessons to our nations youth. He can teach, by example, not only lessons in safety, but lessons in personal responsibility. Being accountable to ones own self. He can take this opportunity to gain respect, even gratitude from parents nationwide.
Or...he could go hide around the side of the house, try to embellish or "tweak" the story. He can teach a different lesson to our youth. He can teach them that the more powerful you become, the less responsible you have to be. He can teach them that a person in power is not bound by the rules.
Accidents happen. Lessons are learned.