Two incidents in the United States in 2008 caused me to wonder if we should be more concerned about the apparent violence among our children.
In one incident, six teenage girls lured an apparent cheerleader squad member to a friend’s home and then brutally gang attacked her with a vicious 30-minute beating in retaliation for some remarks she apparently made about them online. Two teenage boys helped the beating along by serving as lookouts.
Upon her arrival, the victim was struck in the head several times and then had her head slammed into a wall, knocking her unconscious. She awoke on a couch surrounded by the six girls who proceeded, one at a time, to beat her senseless while using several video cameras to record the beating for posting on YouTube online.
The victim suffered a concussion, damage to her left eye and left ear, and numerous bruises. The six female suspects were all charged with felony battery and false imprisonment.
The county sheriff described the beating as a “pack mentality” with “animalistic behavior”. These are supposedly cheerleaders at a school and at least the victim has been described as an honor student.
While all the facts are not in and the legal process will play itself out, it does appear certain that the attackers were immature, self-centered, self-absorbed young teenage girls, far more concerned about protecting their image and stature (as sorry as it is) than acting like civilized members of society.
This is an extreme and pathetic example of how some of our young girls resolve their frustrations today. They beat each other up in their viciousness and stupidity and then pride themselves on how clever they are to videotape the event for posting on the Internet.
No amount of protestations by their parents that they are bright, competent, sensitive, caring, mature young women can erase their abhorrent and intolerable behavior. It goes without saying that the two young men who served as lookouts are no better.
The second incident involved a college fast-pitch softball game wherein an opposing player hit her first-ever home run with two runners on base and, when passing and missing first base on her trip around the bases, she abruptly stopped to go back and collapsed with a knee injury.
It was a close game, and if she could not touch all bases on her way home, she would be declared out. She was injured so badly she could not even stand up. Her teammates could not help her or she would be declared out. A pinch runner could have been called in and the homer would then only count as a single.
In a stunning display of understanding, compassion and sportsmanship, the opposing team’s first baseman and shortstop came over and picked up the injured player, carefully carrying her around the bases and lowering her at each base so she could touch all of the bases and have her home run count.
“You deserve it,” said the first baseman, “you hit it over the fence.”
There was not a dry eye among the injured player’s teammates when she reached home base in the arms of her opponents. The injured player’s coach, a 14-year coaching veteran, called the act of sportsmanship “unbelievable.”
The injured player’s team would go on to win the game 4-2, and eliminate the opposing team, which lost its chance at a conference title and advancing to the playoffs.
One of America’s greatest sportswriters said it best: “When the One Great Scorer comes to write against your name, He marks, not that you won or lost, but how you played the game.”
Both sets of young women in both incidents had a choice to make. The difference between the two choices is clear: you can choose to be self-centered or other-centered.
The low self-image, low self-esteem and low self-confidence level of the six girls who brutally attacked their friend with intent to harm her did not allow them to think of anyone else. Their fragile egos were so harmed by some apparent criticism that they needed to beat their teammate senseless and then post video on the Internet to recover any sense of self-worth.
The fact that some of our youngsters today cannot handle adversity is disturbing. While spending time behind bars before they were released into the custody of their parents, they joked about whether they would make cheerleading practice the next day. The fact that they apparently showed no remorse is even more disturbing. It is one thing to make a terrible mistake; it is another to think it is so funny it becomes evil.
The six teenage girls who brutally beat up their friend have some lessons in life to learn, and perhaps their parents as well. Here are eight lessons they could consider:
1) If you lack the will for change, there is no one who can show you the way.
2) When you blame others, you give up your power to change.
3) Your own thoughts and feelings are the cause of all your problems, not the world or the people in it.
4) The day you start taking responsibility for your actions, and become accountable for your actions, is the day you will start to mature as an adult.
5) What you think about me is none of my business. What is most important is what I think about myself.
6) Always remember that no matter what anyone is saying to you from the outside, the most important conversation is the one you are having with yourself on the inside.
7) Develop some character. Adversity does not build character, it reveals it.
8) Develop some integrity. Integrity is what you do in the dark when no one can see you, and even more so when you stand to profit by doing the wrong thing.