Editor, Commonwealth:

I was born in 1965. During that period, I grew to learn that there were consequences to my negative behaviors. What was even more important in that “conditioning phase” of my life was that if we did something down at “Ms. Jones’ house,” Ms. Jones would “set us straight” and then march us to our house and inform our parents on what happened, and part two of that “social conditioning” phase began.

The village raised the child, there were no young people walking around with guns, “settling scores.” We fought and were friends a few days later. We lived to see another day. Even though we were not taught to value our lives and the lives of others, it was an unspoken rule that was ingrained within us.

I entered Greenwood High School in the fall of 1979. During that time, the “conditioning” that had been fostered upon me in my earlier days, was still set in my mind. If we “acted” out at school, we were paddled, and afterward, our parents were called and the “conditioning” continued. Contrary to what many “studies” have reported, the spankings that my generation and I brought upon ourselves did not result in a generation of unruly children who, in turn, grew to be unruly adults.

After leaving Greenwood High and probably five or six years later, I noticed a gradual change in the mindset of children in our community. I started noticing more violent acts centered around and initiated by our children, and I often wondered why.

Not until I read an article online, did it all come “crashing down” and the light bulb lit up.

The title of that article in The Telegraph newspaper was “Swedish Parenting has created a nation of brats.” Here is an excerpt:

David Eberhard, who was a prominent psychiatrist before becoming a writer, warns in his new book, “How Children Took Power,’” that Swedish parents are now unwilling to discipline their children in any way. Swedes in 1979 became the first to adopt a total smacking ban.

“We live in a culture where so-called experts say that children are ‘competent’ and the conclusion is that children should decide what to eat, what to wear, and when to go to bed,” he said.

“If you have a dinner party, they never sit quietly. They interrupt. They’re always in the centre, and the problem is that when they become young adults, they take with them the expectation that everything is centered around them, which makes them very disappointed.”

What Sweden began, America eventually adopted.

I then did more research on why this change was occurring, and I discovered an article by Dr. Greg Smith on KevinMD.com, titled “A psychiatric disorder or a profound lack of discipline in our kids?” Here’s an excerpt:

Some children are refusing to get out of bed in the morning, refusing to get dressed and go to school, causing their parents great anxiety because “I just can’t make him do anything.” Some parents are resorting to the old taking away of privileges tactic, retrieving in-bedroom game consoles, televisions, computers, and even smartphones.

Wait. Stop. Hold on.

These parents tell me that their children are out of control, that they need to be medicated, that they “are ADHD and bipolar,” that they are sick when actually they are suffering from one thing and one thing only.

A profound lack of discipline in the home and at school.

Now, I’m not advocating a return to paddling and spanking children. My reason for including the above is to show how somewhere after my early childhood and teen years, actions by parents, schools and even entire countries have resulted in what we see now: hyper-violence and even murder among our young adults, not just in Greenwood, but in other areas in our country. This is not a fluke of nature, but a slow, yet methodical form of social conditioning.

Throughout the years, I have sadly read about the newest episode of murder in our community. I’ve also read about some of the solutions that were given, and I anxiously awaited for an article to be published that would peel the veil away and finally expose the root cause and the only solution. That never happened, and I’m still wondering why no one ever thought about it.

What we see now took decades to achieve. We can have all the park speeches we want and give away barbecue plates for the next 20 years. None of that will change a mindset that has been in the making for years.

The only solution to this issue is we have to mold the younger children who are the most impressionable, and I commend those who have taken the responsibility to “catch” our youngest people at a time when they may constantly fall. They are the future.

Installing more surveillance cameras, creating “secret” task forces ala Trump, giving away food, and public speeches won’t cut it. What those things will accomplish is a more angry group of young adults with full stomachs who will still commit more acts of violence.

Unless we all are on the same accord and give our young adults opportunities that will foster positivity, we’re just performing the same song and dance, which does nothing but create more animosity toward those in authority and even other citizens.

There was a time when the village raised a child. Now it seems as if the child is raising the village. We can do better by our young people if we try other angles. Positive social conditioning is the key and it will take more than the “usual.”

Derrick Washington

(2) comments


[thumbup]I agree with you 100%!


This is by far the most intelligent letter to the editor that has appeared in this paper in years. Now the question is what, if anything, will our community leaders take from Mr. Washington's insightful observations? It is long past time to return those participation trophies.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.