If I hear one more (ahem, white) parent say how that black girl at the pool party (she has a name, by the way— it’s Dajerria Becton) got what she deserved, how her parents should have disciplined her properly, how she just needed a good whooping — well, I think I might just go ballistic.
It’s all over the news and social media. A teenage pool party busted up by cops and a 15-year-old black girl thrown to the ground as an officer screams obscenities to her and onlookers. It happened in McKinney, Texas — a suburb not far from me.
There are conflicting reports and arguments that the media is not telling the whole story. . . and I believe that’s true. The kids were not supposed to be there, the event was supposedly out of control, people are saying it wasn’t a “family-friendly” party taking place there in that quiet neighborhood.
If it had happened in my neighborhood, a loud raucous party with obscenity-laden rap music and kids jumping the fence, you better believe I would have called the police. In a heartbeat.
So don’t think for a minute that I’m trying to excuse these kids’ behavior. I’m not condoning breaking the rules.
But here’s where I have to draw the line: you can’t blame every incident of kids’ poor behavior choices on the parenting skills (or lack thereof) of their parents. That whole
- “If she were my kid she’d know better than to mouth off to an officer.”
- “My daughter would never have been at that party in the first place.”
- “My kid knows to respect authority.”
- “My daughter would obey the first time.”
- “My kids doesn’t run with thugs.”
Blah, blah, blah.
You’d like to think so and so would I.
By most accounts, I’m a decent mom. Most people would actually give me more credit than I give myself.
- I’ve raised my kids to be respectful, to obey those in authority, to say “yes, ma’am” and “no, sir.”
- We’ve taken them to church all their lives, read the Bible to them, taught them about Jesus and about love for others.
- We’ve engaged them in service projects and helped them with problems and disciplined them when they were out of line.
- We restrict their TV and internet access and we don’t let them do everything they want to do even though “everyone’s doing it.”
- We support their teachers and help them with their homework and remove their privileges when they disobey.
And you know what?
My kids still make dumb decisions.
I know. It’s shocking isn’t it?
Fortunately, most of the time my kids save their disrespectful attitudes and mouthing-off episodes for home. They typically behave better in public than they do in the comfort of home.
But that’s not always the case. Especially with my autistic son.
My kid would never. . . except he did.
And for all the people criticizing one girl’s supposed lack of parenting, let me tell you a story.
My oldest son (NOT the one with autism) got in trouble at school once. I won’t go into details, but he played a stupid prank that had some not so pleasant consequences. When he got caught, he fessed up immediately and was very repentant.
He called me crying from school that day. I spoke to the assistant principal over the phone and told him that I was sorry for the behavior, that I would support the school in their decision to discipline my son, and that we would reinforce the discipline at home.
We went to the school the following day and met with the principal, where we were then informed that my son would be sent to the alternative center for the rest of the school year. . . and for the first 6 weeks of the following school year.
We were devastated. I had agreed to fully comply with the school’s discipline choice, but continuing the punishment into the following school year seemed excessive, especially given that my son had never had any discipline issues (other than talking in class) prior to this one stupid prank. No one had been harmed by his behavior. There were no illegal substances involved. It was just a stupid middle-school boy prank.
My mother’s heart cried buckets over the whole incident.
- How could my son make such a poor choice when I’d clearly taught him better?
- How could he so blatantly ignore the rules and basic human decency?
Well, the truth of it is that he was a 12 year old kid. Not exactly thinking straight. Kids that age aren’t known for their excellent decision-making abilities.
But this wasn’t just any kid. This was my kid.
Dragging his punishment through the summer months and continuing to punish him into the following year was more than I thought the situation required. . . especially knowing my son.
So we appealed. We met with school district authorities, including the district lawyer. I armed myself with the student code of conduct and went to the meeting prepared to advocate for a child whose heart I know better than anyone else.
It was worth it, nervous as it made me. The district agreed that the punishment was excessive and he ended up finishing the year at the alternative school (already devastating for him and for us) and starting over fresh back at his regular school the next school year.
The incident was then over and he learned his lesson.
The moral of the story
Parents, you can raise ’em right and do all the things you’re supposed to do. . . and they can (and will) still do stupid things that fly right in the face of everything you’ve taught.
And when it’s your kid who’s messed up in a big public way. . . well, let’s just say that you don’t really know how you’d react.
You think you do. But you don’t really. Because it hasn’t happened to you yet.
I thought for sure that I would back up the school district 100% with whatever they came up with. But I was wrong.
Because I couldn’t divorce myself from the truth that the child in question, the child being disciplined was MINE. He wasn’t some hypothetical student in a district code of conduct manual. He was my son.
So say what you will about Dajerria Becton.
- Say she was shoved to the ground for running her mouth and disrespecting a police officer.
- Go ahead and say that you’d be fine if that had been your daughter.
- Or go ahead and say that it would NEVER had been your child.
But you’re wrong.
Dajerria is somebody’s daughter. She’s also just a normal teenager who went to an end-of-school pool party. Maybe she made some dumb decisions while she was there. Maybe she didn’t.
Because the “punishment” did not fit the “crime” of just being a kid.
For all you parents who say, “My kid would never. . .” Well, I hope you’re right.
But don’t say I didn’t warn you.
*For further reading, I highly recommend this article by Marty Duren. It includes a written transcript of the entire 7-minute video and is enlightening to say the least.