Brown County Browser: Parents have duty to be parents

Brown County Browser

I recently gave presentations at Sleepy Eye High School and Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s High School. It was my pleasure to give the presentations, but all of the credit for making the arrangements and doing the legwork to get the programs lined up go to Officer Shawn Bohnen and Chief Matt Andres. We have outstanding law enforcement officers here in Brown County, and these are two of the best. They truly care about their community and the people they serve. The men and women we have here in law enforcement do an amazing job and I am proud to be associated with all of them.

The presentations I gave to all of the students in 7th through 12th grade at both Sleepy Eye schools focused primarily on good decision making. During the hour we had at each school, I talked about alcohol use, drinking and driving, smoking, drugs and methamphetamine, bullying and “sexting.” At both schools, the students were very engaged, respectful and attentive. But, I’m a realist. I know there were some kids who let everything I said go in one ear and out the other. We all know what it’s like to sit through school programs listening to adults. So, as I told them, if I am able to reach only a handful of kids, it is more than worth my time. If I can save even one family the pain of having to bury their 16-year-old child because of a stupid decision kids make, I would do it again in a heartbeat. I am hoping to do similar presentations at the other schools in the county.

But I can give all the presentations in the world to students and without follow up by parents, it’s not going to make much difference. The reason I wanted to write this article now, is for all of the parents who weren’t there during my presentations. In light of the recent incident we experienced with six children under the age of 14 out at around 1 a.m. in a stolen vehicle, there has never been a bigger example of how critical it is for parents to be involved in their children’s lives!

As a parent, you have to be hyper vigilant with your children. The legal standard is “there is a lowered expectation of privacy for children in school.” Well, in my opinion, the standard in your home should be there is “NO expectation of privacy.” Would you rather have your child upset because you looked through their cell phone, or would you rather be picking them up at the police station, or worst of all, identifying them at the morgue? It’s not about infringing on your child’s privacy, it’s about fulfilling the legal, ethical, and moral duty you have to protect your children!

Parents, be parents. Get involved in your kids’ lives, look at their phone, and see who their friends are. Single parents, you have to try even harder. You have to do the job of both parents. But, I’m living proof it can done. I was raised for most of my childhood by a single mom with four boys. Did we get up to mischief? You bet. But the wrath of Mom was something that straightened us out every time. You have to be a parent first, and their friend second. If you’re struggling, get in contact with Human Services. They would be glad to help you in any way they can.

We all want to live in a safe and secure community, and it starts with keeping our kids safe; keeping them safe from others, but also from themselves. As a parent, that’s a job that never ends!

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