Editorial: The solution starts in childhood

Published 12:17 pm Friday, October 25, 2013

The ultimate nanny state is prison.

When we read stories about people who commit crimes, it’s easy to distance ourselves by shaming them and looking down on them. We think, “What a monster!” “How horrible!” “What a sicko!”

While no doubt descriptions often are true, after reading again and again about these criminals doing awful things, sometimes to innocent children, at some point the mind begins to ask: “How did this person end up this way?” “Where do these people come from?” “What can be done to prevent this?”

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In most cases, it’s not that hard to tell where the problems come from.

Teach children right from wrong. Don’t let them become another scary story in the paper.

Teach children right from wrong. Don’t let them become another scary story in the paper.

Some criminals are good people gone astray, but most, frankly, are the grown-up versions of children who didn’t get the love and support they needed. Their parent or parents saw them as a burden. They were the rugrats who got in the way of a fun nightlife or were yelled at a lot for every little thing they did or were simply left without any guidance, supervision or discipline at all. Then there are the ones who weren’t loved properly, especially as they aged— given gifts instead of hugs, treated as party friends instead of as teenagers, bullied by siblings or never taught basic social skills.

Children need love, but not just any kind. They need the parental kind, the kind that sets boundaries, the kind that gives hugs whenever needed, the kind that takes the time to explain the most trivial things, the kind willing to watch a cartoon, to draw with crayons or to play catch, instead of doing some adult pastime like go to the bar or rock out with a buddy.

But do you know what? Sometimes that kid from the troubled home turns out OK. Sometimes, the child finds love and guidance in the form of attention from other adults, such as a teacher, the father of a neighbor boy or a monitor at an after-school program.

We never know how many crimes we may have prevented by just being kind to a troubled youth.

The kids who get the advantages of loving parents and caring adults are the ones who usually won’t end up in the paper for the wrong reasons. They won’t burden our taxes by going to court, jail or prison. They won’t need the government to nanny them. They will be taxpayers holding down jobs, owning homes and thinking for themselves.

We hope we, as a community, are looking out for our children and being mindful of the problems many children face. We want them to grow up seeing people do what’s right in hopes of them growing up right. We, the adults, must always strive to set the proper example.