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‘No fear’ mentality a problem

April 27, 2012
Bill Finnigan - Community Columnist ( , Tribune Chronicle |

It wasn't too many years ago that the logo ''No Fear'' was plastered on clothes items everywhere. It was considered ''cool'' to let folks know that we were not afraid of anything - that nothing could deter us from doing what we wanted.

In the 1960s, LSD was the popular psychedelic drug of choice for many college students. Young people were known to jump out of windows intending to fly, with no fear of the consequences. In reality, a healthy ''fear'' would have saved their lives. LSD is not as popular today, but the ''no fear'' mentality still exists at epidemic proportion. I'm talking about the lack of respect for authority on every level of society.

It was alarming to read the account of a six-year-old in the Atlanta area who pitched a fit in Kindergarten, and had to be handcuffed by the police and taken to jail. Could it be that the teacher and principal were afraid to physically restrain her because of a ''brutality'' lawsuit? Of course, the mother was upset with the police when she should have been angry and grieved with her child's wicked behavior.

It's time to take a close look at this situation, because I would not be surprised to hear of a similar scenario right here in Warren. I have reason to believe that similar ''tantrums'' occur all too often in our school system, leaving teachers and administrators in frustration and helplessness. The problem is exacerbated by parents who literally ''curse out'' the teachers, instead of clobbering their little rebel. The philosophy of ''kids will be kids,'' without restraining their actions, will eventually destroy our educational system.

What's a teacher to do with no backing or cooperation from parents? Moreover, fearful and ineffective administrators only enhance the dilemma. This illustrates the ongoing dilemma confronting public education - but it has not always been that way.

In the ''old days,'' parents and teachers were on the same team. Child brutality was minimal because children were put in their place quickly and effectively. When words failed, the paddle was used sparingly, preventing the parent and teacher from losing their tempers and thus hurting the child. Security guards were not needed because children were trained to ''fear'' and respect authority.

Sure, there were problems in schools back then - I was one of them. But when we stepped out of line, we were met with ''fair justice.'' There was freedom for teachers and principals to administer discipline (including spanking) without repercussion from the parents and the ACLU. Home and school were geared up together to make children all that they could be. That produced a mutual liberty to accomplish great things, without a thought of police intervention.

Somehow that's been lost, with teachers fearing to reprimand a student in any way. The age of ''delinquency'' is getting younger all the time because of the growing delinquency of parents.

Remember those days not long ago, when students threatened teachers with: ''Don't touch me, or I'll sue you?'' Then they pulled the same thing with their parents. Now they thrive on a ''no fear'' mentality, which can easily lead to bullying and the use of weapons to deal with their rebellious insecurity. Indeed, the harvest has come in, and the results are frightening.

Parents have the God-given responsibility to educate their children, using schools and other means to accomplish it. The battle is won or lost at home. No teacher at school, no mater how gifted and dedicated, can rise without the student's parental support. Without such backing, we will continue to lose many choice teachers who refuse to take any more ''abuse.''

Our new superintendent in Warren needs to address this serious problem, providing an example of personal integrity and courage. Let's not be afraid to deal effectively with students who spoil much good because of a ''no fear'' mentality.

Finnigan is a Howland resident. Email him at



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