Coffee heat rising

Kids in an Overheated Age

What ARE they up to?

The story of the 11-year-old boy who killed himself when his 13-year-old amour posted on Facebook that she was offing herself has been afloat in the news for the past several days. We’re told authorities are pressing charges against the girl, who somehow was supposed to have known that her childish joke would drive the kid to suicide.

Honest to God. They’re children, for cryin’ out loud. Where were their parents? And why were the kids on Facebook at all? More to the point, why were they pretending to be a romantic item?

Whoever’s at fault here, it’s not a barely adolescent girl.

Even though American children experience puberty at a much earlier age than used to be normal (one of my friends said her daughter got her first period at age nine!), they’re still children.

An 11-year-old is not psychologically prepared to deal with the ups and downs of romantic engagement. Neither, IMHO, is a 13-year-old. Yet these two kids were said to be “boyfriend” and “girlfriend.”


Where were their parents? What kind of adults let two young kids decide they’re in a romantic relationship? And for that matter, what kind of adults allow their children to surf Facebook (and presumably the rest of the Internet) unsupervised?

The business of letting little kids decide that they’re “boyfriend” and “girlfriend” — as opposed to playmates — is not new. When I was in the fifth and sixth grades, I had classmates who dubbed themselves “boyfriend and girlfriend.” Amazingly, their parents thought this was cute and actually encouraged it. The kids went on little dates and exchanged tokens of their undying love.

It was stupid then. And it’s probably even stupider today, with the superheated atmosphere stoked by social media and the accelerated physical maturation created by the hormone-like and pharmaceutical hormones that contaminate our food and water. The fact that a nine-year-old has her period or that a six-year-old can get it up does not mean either of them is capable of the complex grasp of human relationships demanded by romance.

The whole thing just makes me want to bite someone — especially the mother who’s trying to blame a 13-year-old child for her own irresponsibility and the small-town prosecutors who are charging the 13-year-old over a stupid but noncriminal act whose consequences she could not possibly have predicted.

Failing to keep tabs on what your kids are up to in the social media should be regarded as child neglect. Letting your 11-year-old “date” should be classed as a type of child abuse. The consequences, as we see, can be dire.

What say you? Am I crazy? Or are the adults involved in this sorrowful fiasco the real culprits?

Image: DepositPhotos, © vizualni

4 thoughts on “Kids in an Overheated Age”

  1. Growing up we would leave the house in the morning to go play/run around and not return some days until dusk/dinner time. My parents did not know every move we made during that time. They took precautions about what we could and should do and not do, but they were not there every moment to monitor what took place. No one would have suggested they were negligent for this. In 2017 computers are everywhere, and kids routinely use them. Yes, parents should take precautions and discuss with their children to do and not to do, but for every moment to be monitored is not reasonable.

    Likewise, pranks/bullying are nothing new. What was once the realm of schoolyards now also resides online. In many ways we (kids and adults) are far more ruthless online than most of us would consider being in person. There is a line when a prank goes too far and crosses into malice. When the target of your prank tells you they are going to kill oneself as a result of your prank and you continue the prank, you have crossed a line. There are consequences for crossing that line.

    • Yes, I remember those good ole days! Today if you let your kid walk to the park, you may find CPS coming after you for child neglect and abuse.

      When I was that age, the bullying I was subjected to routinely — daily — most certainly was malicious, and it most certainly affected me for the rest of my life. It was regarded blithely, as “kids will be kids.” Malice or not, children do this sort of thing, and I wonder if one can assume that a 13-year-old recognizes when she is doing what an adult would consider malicious. I suspect many don’t and can’t.

      Whereas one cannot watch over an 11-year-old’s shoulder every minute, one can refrain from giving him a cell phone; one can have his FB password and occasionally scan through what he’s seeing on FB — just as a responsible parent would keep an eye out, even if only casually, as to what the kids see at the movies and on TV. And one can explain to an 11-year-old what having a “girlfriend” means and that the world won’t end if the girlfriend jilts him. You also can suggest to him that he’s too young to have a “girlfriend” and lay down some guidelines.

      There’s no doubt a lot more to that story than we’re getting. Still, unless the girl was engaged in an active plan to drive the boy to suicide, I think prosecuting her for a crime is way, way out of bounds.

      • I completely agree there is a lot to this story we likely do not know. We will most likely never know given this will go through juvenile court.

        I was bullied and “pranked” mercilessly through middle- and high school to point of contemplating suicide multiple times. That experience likely biases my thinking, but I have a difficult time saying “kids will be kids” without repercussion.

      • Yes. I also considered suicide at about that age. But in the absence of the Internet, I didn’t know how and couldn’t easily find out how.

        The amazing thing, though, is that many years later I discovered that my darling little classmates had no memory of tormenting me and apparently had no clue how hateful and hurtful they were.

        That’s why I’d argue that the 13-year-old (and the 11-year-old) would have benefited by more alert parental supervision.

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