I Smell Something Burning. It’s Common Sense!

A friend sent me a story that pissed me off, so I thought I’d write about it.

Let me try and sum this up for you. At a housing complex in a tough neighbourhood in Winnipeg, a bunch of kids between the ages of 8 and 11 decided to set fire to a shed in the playground. A 14-year-old boy saw them trying to burn the shed down. They started calling him names, shoved him into the shed, which wasn’t hard to do since he has trouble walking, jammed the door shut and set the fire. Someone heard the commotion and managed to get the boy out and firefighters took him to hospital. He escaped with some smoke inhalation, but he’s fine now, at least physically.

Now, because of their age, the kids who did this to him can’t face any kind of charges or consequences whatsoever. The best the police can do is send them to a voluntary program to tell them about the dangers of fire. But, the story says these kids’ parents aren’t really a major presence in these kids’ lives. So how many of them do you think will show up for the program?

Some people are thinking, obviously, that something needs to be done about this. They don’t want to send kids to jail. But they want them to face some kind of community service, and maybe their parents should be made to pay fines for the damage the kids did. Maybe that would teach them to supervise their little rascals.

But of course, people are screaming that this is unfair, “draconian” even, as stated by federal Liberal justice critic Sue Barnes. She thinks maybe these kids didn’t understand that what they were doing could have hurtor killed somebody.

Ok. When did your teachers and parents teach you that when the fire alarm goes off, get out because it’s not safe to be in a building with a fire? I think I was about five. If I know that fire can hurt or kill me, I think I can think far enough ahead that maybe we shouldn’t lock someone in a burning shed because no good can come of that.

The ridiculous statements continue. >> “As far as we know from child development literature, this whole idea of future consequences is something that … probably is not fully developed until well into late adolescence,” said professor Barry Mallin, who teaches school psychology at the University of Manitoba. Oh yeah? Then why are kids aged 12 and up able to be charged with a crime?

Then there’s this gem. “I would think (children) don’t see the whole physiological aspect of saying, `You know, you put a kid in there and he starts inhaling smoke and he’s going to be incapacitated and he’s eventually going to die,'” said Professor Glen Bergeron, who teaches kinesiology and applied health at the University of Winnipeg.

Congrats, mr. Big words. Congrats on making “Fires are dangerous and can hurt you, they could even kill you,” into something harder to understand than it has to be. I think those kids can understand that. And if they can’t, well I guess mom and dad need to keep a closer eye on them, don’t they? Maybe they need to teach them a few things.

It’s sad that, in a world where personal responsibility is a dying concept, some people want to kill it even faster.

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