December 10, 2011 (Original publish date) • By Dennis Beaver
In our last two columns, we focused on the role of the school resource officer in junior high and high schools. To briefly review, an SRO is a law enforcement officer assigned to a school campus in a number of prevention functions.
They are a resource for students, teachers, administration and parents for law-related issues, helping students handle pressures so common on today’s campus, such as gang activity, bullying, alcohol, drugs and harassment.
“For many students, our SRO, Officer Per Westlund, is the only adult they trust and are able to pour out their true feelings and fears to,” said Jason Strickland, principal at JFK Junior High School in Hanford. “With truancy, SROs find out why a student isn’t in class and help parents deal with their truant son or daughter — if the problem is the kid.”
Generally, though, the problem lies with the parent, Westlund tells “You and the Law.” A police officer for the past 15 years, four as an SRO, Westlund has “regrettably learned the formula of how parents fail their children.”
He shared it with us.
Trust your kids to know best
1) Trust your children unconditionally. Never invade their private, personal drawers, backpack, journals, diaries, under the mattress or between mattress and box spring.
2) Let them have secret passwords to their own computers, allowing them to roam any website freely, and don’t violate their privacy by checking their computer history. Absolutely never require their door be kept open so that you can see what is on their screen.
3) Don’t ask about their 500 Facebook friends — especially if some of them have beards or look like Playboy bunnies.
4) It’s at about 25 years of age when the brain is neurologically mature, so kids make decisions which may seem at the time to make sense — such as staying up all night playing video games — and then are too tired to go to school in the morning. Let them sleep in on school days and please do not worry about establishing a dangerous pattern. In so doing, your success as a failed parent will be assured.
5) Truancy is the best road to failure in school and contributes to unfulfilled lives, even with highly intelligent children. When your kids are constantly not feeling well and just can’t go to school, by all means, let them sleep in. And please, give the school excuses. They would never lie to mom or dad. Would they? Would you?
6) Trust them when they say they do not have any homework. Or that it is done, and that their reports have all been finished. Never check the homework, and don’t even dream of reading one of their essays.
7) Never talk with their teachers and don’t waste your time in visiting the school or inquiring about their progress.
8) Trust they will be where they say they are going. If it’s to Billy’s home, never call Billy’s parents to confirm. You don’t want to give your kids reason to think that you check up on them.
9) Billy has invited them to spend Friday night, and says there will be adult supervision. Great, trust them and don’t verify any of that. No problem if the adult is Billy’s 18-year-old sister, currently on probation for drunk driving.
10) While it is normal to repeat expectations, such as make your bed, don’t worry if it’s never done. Go ahead and buy those new $300 shoes they have been demanding you get for them. Kids are young only once, and all their friends at school have the same shoes.
Reward and encourage dangerous body modifications
11) Children need to express themselves as they see fit. When your child tells you that he or she wants large plugs or facial and body piercing, agree immediately and open your checkbook. Later, hope your health insurance premiums are current and you have a great drug plan for the expensive antibiotics required for one of their infections.
12) Manners? Your children do not need to be taught to say “Thank you.” Just tell them that the world is like Costco, where you will never hear someone telling the nice sample lady “Thank You.”
To Westlund’s formula for failure, we add the following:
Parents must protect and prepare their children for life. It’s OK if they don’t like you today because you didn’t buy them something or allow them to do this or that. Being a parent isn’t easy, and if it seems to be, then you probably are failing.
There is one question you should hope to never hear from your kids: “Why didn’t you insist?”
Dennis Beaver practices law in Bakersfield and enjoys hearing from his readers. Contact Dennis Beaver.