My, How Times Have Changed - The Missourian: Opinion

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My, How Times Have Changed

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Posted: Saturday, March 1, 2014 5:32 pm

Anybody with some body wear (been around for a time) recognizes how different things are today compared to other eras. Are things better today than, let’s call it the old days, which is a worn-out term, just like many of today’s seniors?

We remember the day when people who hadn’t lived here very long, some were transit workers, would get drunk and disorderly. After a day or two in the city jail, police would escort them out of town, dumping them at the city limits with the words, “Don’t come back or . . . !” That policy seemed to work. No charges were filed. No court hearings. Simply, getting rid of them.

We hear and read a lot these days about bullying, from kindergarten to high school, and even to locker rooms in the NFL. Bullying was never right and is wrong today. In the old days, sometimes there was an effective way to deal with bullies. The victim, if he had close friends, dealt the bully some physical lessons. That ended it. That can’t be done today because of our laws and litigation. It was never right to be that physical but it did happen.

Schoolteachers and administrators have to be very careful today. If they touch a student who needs discipline, they may face charges or a civil suit, or both. In the old days, if a student needed discipline, school administrators, or teachers, would inform parents, who handled the discipline, and often it was physical.

Even parents have to be careful today. We remember a student who was disciplined at home and the physical marks were evident. From what we remember, that student wasn’t a discipline problem again. We aren’t advocating beating of students by parents — merely writing what happened.

This past week we read that a high school student in northwest Missouri, a football player, roughed up an opponent, causing a concussion. He was charged with assaulting a player on the other team during a game. He ripped off an opponent’s helmet and struck him in the head with it. The player entered a guilty plea, was sentenced to two years’ probation, must attend anger management classes, do 100 hours of community service, make restitution and write an apology letter to the victim. That punishment was appropriate. In the old days, the player would have been kicked out of the game, disciplined by his coach and school, and probably ordered to apologize to the victim and to his school. We doubt if a charge of assault would have been filed in those days.

We are aware of a teacher who disciplined an unruly student many years ago by pushing him up against a wall and informing him of his wrongdoings, trying to reform him. The teacher ended up the victim and was punished by the school.

Those of us who attended a private school remember the slaps on the face by nuns, who also knew how to use a ruler in a discipline manner. The classes were large, the boys were discipline problems at times and the nuns knew how to restore order. That probably would be considered assault today!

There was a time when law enforcement in small towns was very limited. Traffic violations weren’t enforced and with young drivers, they didn’t have to worry about being stopped for being underage and driving. It wasn’t unusual for boys age 14, perhaps even younger in some instances, to operate vehicles, and never be stopped. That was true in towns and on highways. Boys, and some girls, who grew up on farms started driving tractors and trucks at an early age. Driving at an early age simply wasn’t a big deal.

Vandalism wasn’t that common although there was some in the old days. We remember when several boys on Halloween took tires that were stored outside of a business and rolled them down Elm Street. The boys were caught. Their punishment was to be publicly paraded on the street where minor damage occurred and were made to repair the damage. There were plenty of pranks on Halloween but it was rare when one would be classified as vandalism and a young person arrested and charged.

As a member of the Old Army (Korean War), there was physical punishment that was not authorized but the officers and sergeants looked the other way. There were some unwritten and unofficial policies that resulted in physical punishment. It was left to the troops to administer the punishment. That method was effective but it would never be permitted today. And, should not be.

It was a different age, attitudes were different, there were fewer laws, fewer law enforcement officers, less court actions, and while life may have had its brutal aspects, it also was much more simple, and perhaps with more happiness. This age finds more people who have serious personal problems. Some call it baggage. The world is much more materialistic and greed is rampant. Relaxed customs and religious beliefs have not resulted in a better society or one that is more moral.

/opinion