Failed parenting is the root problem of lockdowns

School threats in Eastern Washington this past week have nothing to do with gun control

— In the “old” days, we carried guns in our cars to school, so we could go shooting after class. We carried pocketknives to peel or slice fruit during school lunches.

Those firearms never left our vehicles. Never did we threaten anyone with our guns. And very rarely was a knife pulled during a school fight.

We couldn’t blame everything on being bullied. We weren’t allowed to advance academically if we couldn’t read, write, add or subtract at or above the expected level. And when we misbehaved, we were sent to the office for a swat, suspension or expulsion.

It was Mom and Dad who were responsible for baby sitting unruly children and teenagers. And school employees focused on students who wanted to learn, rather than those who didn’t and may subsequently be sent home.

Ah, the good ol’ days.

Over the last few days in the Lower Yakima Valley, we’ve witnessed exactly what happens when we give our youth a pass on everything from cleaning their room to eating their vegetables to meeting grade-level expectations. We’ve seen what happens when schools provide a feel-good curriculum and atmosphere, rather than a strict, educational environment.

Enough is enough.

No, the school threats this week in Prosser, Grandview, Sunnyside and Granger are not about gun control. And they have little to do with making our schools safer.

The incidents that have unfolded here have everything to do with parenting and teaching. The incidents have everything to do with failing to teach our children there can be severe consequences for inappropriate actions.

I’m not going to speculate if the students who have created the upheaval in our schools spent too much time playing video games, playing on Facebook, taking selfies or smoking pot. But I’m sure those are a few of the factors shaping our children’s misguided and false perception of the world around them.

Instead, I believe the problem falls squarely on the shoulders of parents and teachers.

Let’s face it, we’ve over indulged our children to the point that they think it’s funny to threaten classmates with firearms and bombs.

We give our children video games at a young age and they spend hours killing everything on screen. When they’re bored, we give them expensive cellphones. They use those phones to take selfies everywhere they go and post them to social media. And when someone has a “better” selfie, they look for a way to one-up their friends.

When that’s no longer fun, they turn to easy-to-obtain drugs like marijuana, prescription medications and alcohol. And when their lives don’t go the way they want, they claim they’ve been bullied and mistreated.

The current self-indulgent generation in our schools then looks for a way to make a bigger name for themselves. They need more “likes.” Their photos and videos need to go “viral.” Some see the only way is to develop a plan to shoot up their school.

As a kid, I truly believed my Mom had eyes in the back of her head. Every time I did something wrong, it felt like she was watching.

Children and teenagers today don’t fear the wrath of Mom and Dad finding out what they’re up to. Heck, most parents probably don’t even try.

Many parents say they want to give their children space to learn and grow. But that detached parenting will leads to more school lockdowns.

So much for space.

On the other side of the equation, helicopter parents are hovering so close to their children that they defend everything their child does.

When a child fails a test at school, those helicopter parents blame the test, blame racism, blame everything except their child’s lack of studying and their lack of parental oversight.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve already had enough of school lockdowns.

I don’t want my daughter in a school that feels like a prison. I want her in a school where education is emphasized and teachers tell her to cowgirl up when it gets tough.

No coddling. No blaming bullies. No behavior-altering medicine. No excuse.

Just straight forward responsibility.

We’re paying the price for allowing a “progressive” educational system to replace the “conservative” reading, writing and arithmetic standards. Our children won’t be safer on campus until we reverse course and put responsibility squarely on the shoulders of the students themselves, their parents and their teachers.

Stop complaining about guns, drugs, games and social media. Instead, get back to the business of parenting and educating.

Roger Harnack is the publisher and editor of The Daily Sun. Email him at


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