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Missing Parents.

Ever so often, something happens involving a nation's children that is so reprehensible, that it sparks mass outrage. There is a lot of media coverage, and letters written by concerned individuals, and talks about a need to fix the state of affairs. Then comes the bandaid - some fix that has been identified for the problem. These fixes usually amount to nothing but a palliative - and not for the problem, but simply to calm the outrage. Give people an impression that something is being done, and they will shut up. Nothing really changes though.

Well nothing except parental values. The decline in the values of a nation's children is not an indication of mass rebellion on the part of children. Rather, it is an indictment on parents. There is a simple solution to the problem of misbehaving kids: rare them. And while a good flogging may be effective, that's not the homonym meant in the previous sentence. Parents need to bring up their children. They need to teach them the values that they want to see them adopt. Children are impressionable, they are empty minds waiting to be filled. While adults see or hear things and frame it within their value system, what children see and hear becomes their value system. If parents don't fill those minds and create their value systems, others will.

Don't blame musicians, movie makers, and music video producers. Their job is to make provocative pieces. Your job is to raise your children. Granted, children cannot be protected from everything. But when they see things that mommy and daddy have prohibited, they will think twice about it. Instead of simply accepting what they see, they will wonder why mommy and daddy didn't want them to see it. In the absence of a fully developed conscience, mom and dad's voice in their head becomes their conscience when the see or hear songs such as the one highlighted in Tomekha McCarthy's article ‘Tight Up Skirt – Samantha J’ is Everything Wrong With Jamaica.

Of course, approaches to parenting differ. Some parents believe in giving their children the freedom to choose their value system. Others are authoritarian, and what they say goes. Regardless of one's approach, the important thing is to be an influence in your child's life. A frame of reference is essential to well adjusted development. And even parents who have a laissez-faire approach to child rearing are providing a framework. Every time they tell their child that they are free to make their own choices, they are exerting a positive influence.

While the community and nation at large can foster good values that support the efforts of parents, it does not remove the onus from parents. It is not the job of the country, the business community, the government or the owners of Facebook to raise your children. And on the flip side, if the community at large is pushing values that are quite the opposite of what you want to teach your children, you can counter those values by being present in your child's life. The only form of parenting that does not work is being absent, either physically or in providing guidance.

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