The kids are all right?


By Kim Perl, M.D.

Resident, Carmel Valley

I read with interest two side by side articles in the July 9 issue: one on CCA students (Possession of alcohol bars seven Canyon Crest students from graduation ceremony) and the other on the status of cheating in our schools (Schools tackle growing practice of cheating).

The two articles have something in common, and the quote Marsha Sutton used to begin the second story illustrates it quite clearly. The fact is we as parents, along with our schools, send mixed messages when it comes to teaching our children to respect the difference between right and wrong.

The student, whose name and quote appeared in the TPHS 2002-03 yearbook, stated that he never cheated off stupid people because he wanted to go to UCLA. Will anyone actually be surprised when this young man and others like him end up in business and government jobs where the effects of cheating don’t just hurt classmates or a school, but hurt us as a society?

It isn’t just the schools that are letting our children down when they don’t (or can’t, for threat of lawsuit) enforce meaningful consequences for cheating and other serious infractions. The fault lies with our community, for not insisting on it. Even worse, when our own children are personally involved, oftentimes we embrace our perception of extenuating circumstances and bring in whatever big guns are needed to make sure our kids bear as little responsibility or consequence as possible. It’s no wonder students end up confused and losing respect for how serious these issues really are.

School is the bridge between the shelter of childhood and the moral responsibility of adulthood and it provides a golden opportunity for our children to learn there is a big difference between the two. Rather than impeding and discouraging our schools from following through with consequences, we would be doing our children and society a much greater service by allowing and encouraging schools to teach our children there are repercussions and accountability at every turn. The lessons are at times painful, but the absence of the lessons leads to far worse.