What happens when a teen murders someone, and then is sentenced to life in prison without parole? It’s a difficult question for most. But when I read a recent article on MSNBC.com called “14 years old: Too young for life in prison?” I started thinking more about it. What came to mind is that perhaps we’re not looking at the right place to make a decision. These children committing adult crimes is only the product of something more serious: the way children are raised, and the lack of respect they’re taught.

I found the quote of T. J. Tremble quite interesting, “The whole problem is that people don’t think we can change, that we can’t be rehabbed. For lifers, they don’t offer us anything. Absolutely nothing.” Keep in mind that at the age of 14, he rode his bike to an elderly couple’s home, shot them in the head while they slept, then stole their car. He was sentenced for this crime and does not deny that he did it. There’s no talk of remorse for his crime, nor even a sense of repentance (though, in all honesty, we cannot read the hearts and minds of people).

There’s always a possibility that someone has had a change of heart after committing murder. It’s true. They want another chance; but what other chance do the victims have? Who speaks for them?

Rather than taking this discussion to the Supreme Court to decided the fates of these children, why not open discussion on the cause of these children’s crimes. At what point in their lives have these children decided that such a crime (or any crime for that matter) is okay to commit? Who taught them that these crimes are socially acceptable – provided they get away with it? And why would the Supreme Court decide on the lives of children committing homicide before the age of 17, yet not for anyone outside of that age range? What makes 17 the sudden golden age of enlightenment?

What I see is the breakdown of society’s ability to teach their children between right and wrong. We can’t continue to point the finger at video games, or horror movies, or drugs, or alcohol as the culprits. Who is teaching them that the video games are just like life? Who is teaching them that horror movies are okay to try in real life? Who is teaching them that it’s okay to play with drugs and alcohol?

I’m not saying that parents are always to blame – not always. But parents (or guardians) are the deciding factors in their children’s lives, if nothing more than by example. If a child sees his parent(s) snorting cocaine to get high, or drinking and getting drunk to have fun, they will learn that this is how it’s done. Sadly, it appears more and more that teaching respect is no longer in fashion; and with each passing generation it gets worse. These types of crimes grow exponentially, and need to stop before it gets even more out of hand.

If you’re reading this and have children, take the time to be totally boring with them. Take the time to teach them what respect is: respect for life, respect for family, respect for property, respect for God, respect for faith, respect for country. Yes, you’ll be totally boring to them – a total loser – but all it takes is a seed to be planted.

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