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You can dish it out, but ...


Melissa Robinson


  There’s been much said and written about the recent food fight in the cafeteria of Ola High School in McDonough. Local news channels have carried the tale and interviewed parents who were upset and even outraged by the way law enforcement and the school district have handled the situation. Apparently school officials got wind of a pre-planned food fight that was to take place in the cafeteria during a lunch period. An announcement was made over the PA system warning students not to participate in any food fight or there would be serious consequences.

  Hmmm…a warning not to break the rules in school or you will be in trouble? Plenty of time to think about what you want to do and change your plans accordingly. So, if I understand it correctly, these students were given ample time and a warning not to participate in an unsavory activity and at least some of them thought, “hmm… we don’t care what school officials say, we can do what we want. This is our school and if we want to have a food fight in the cafeteria, then darn it we’re entitled.”

  And therein lies the problem. Entitlement. It’s not that the food fight resulted in terrible injury or death or millions of dollars in damaged property, it’s the fact that these kids were warned and didn’t give a damn, because somewhere along the line, they got the idea that rules don’t apply to them. They mistakenly believed that they could do whatever they pleased, without consequences because they wanted to, and the rest of the world can kiss their grits (for lack of a better word). Obviously these kids didn’t care what the administrators said, what their parents would think, how their actions affected other students or who had to clean up the disgusting mess after they had their “fun.” Perhaps they have had someone following them around cleaning up their messes their whole lives.

  You see, the problem isn’t with the sheriff or school resource officer. It’s not with the “mean” teachers and administrators expecting students to act in a civilized manner. And in some cases, it’s not really with the students themselves—at least for some of these students, the problem is with the parents. The “not my child” syndrome, where, instead of raising their children to act responsibly and accept the consequences when they don’t, parents make excuses for poor behavior and bad decisions. People of all ages sometimes do foolish things, make bad decisions and even break the law. Then suffer the consequences, hopefully learn from it and change behavior.

  These kids were warned. If they hadn’t been, then maybe the arrests would have seemed extreme, but when you are told the consequences of your actions, and buck the system and authority anyway, then what happens next is your own fault. Maybe some of these parents should stop making excuses and hold their kids accountable. But the problem of entitlement and doing what you please didn’t start in high school. The idea of being respectful and following rules and acting in a manner that is reasonable is instilled in children when they are two and three and four years old. If they don’t have a moral compass by high school, trust me, they most likely will never get it.

   So my advice to the parents who are suffering from “not my child” syndrome, get a lawyer and let justice take its course. And the several thousand dollars you spend now might save you from real heartache later if your kids actually learn a lesson from all of their nonsense, and yours.

  Melissa Robinson is a writer and contributing editor of The Henry County Times. She lives in McDonough with her husband and two children.




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