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Parents should know where their kids are surfing, in the water and on the Internet

How could this happen to a “good” family? How could this happen to a set of loving parents who, for all intents and purposes, appeared to be “normal?” Who do we blame?

When the parents are ill-quipped to raise children, for example, when they are on drugs, are alcoholics or are abusers, then we can understand or at least we have something or someone to blame. Yet, we have had two cases recently that tell us horrible things can happen to good families. The first is discussed below and the second being Elliot Rodger.

Most recently is the story from Wisconsin where two 12-year-old girls stabbed a classmate 19 times. It has been reported they did this to satisfy, or impress, a fictional character they read about on a horror website. Friends and neighbors of the girls and their families have come forward to explain that the family was normal, good and the parents were kind and involved with their children. This is the exact opposite of what we would initially think. So, what happened? What was the cause?

The next logical place for us to look in our blame search, is the mental condition of the girls.

Were they disturbed? Did they have mental issues beyond the obvious? Thus far there has been no evidence of a history of mental illness in this case.

Where do we go next? You got it, the Internet. The evil, horrible Internet. I write that in a sarcastic tone, yet, it just might be true in some circumstances. The Internet is simply a pathway, an avenue to all things. Some of those things are good, some are bad, some are educational and some are disgusting. It’s not the Internet itself, it is the information on it. There will likely never be a reliable and successful policing of the Internet. That means it’s up to the parents.

I know you have heard it a million times and I myself have said it over and over again. Parents, you need to watch your children around water and around the Internet. My co-host on The Agenda, Joe Huizenga, calls me a helicopter parent. I prefer to call myself an involved mommy.

Our job as parents, at the most simplistic level, is to feed, clothe, protect and educate our children so they become productive members of society. We need to be aware of what they watch, listen to, read, who their friends are and where they are visiting on the Internet. Times change, technology advances, and as parents, we need to adapt.

You wouldn’t let your children wander into an adult bookstore, so don’t let them wander around on the Internet. Will it happen? Sure. Yet the tools are there to help you be aware of what they are doing and to discipline and educate them on what is real and appropriate and what is not.

Here are a couple easy things you can do:

• Set the filters on any computers in the home, and on their phones

• Simply search the Internet browsing history on the computer

• Check in on them when they are on the Internet

• Most importantly, talk to them.

The girls in this case will either be tried as adults, or will remain in juvenile court. They will also receive a thorough mental evaluation to determine what should be done. My thought is the prosecutor will charge them as juveniles and they will be in custody for a significant amount of time, if not until age 18. They will also receive mental treatment. The website could be sued, although this is probably a red herring since it did not MAKE the girls do anything. The parents of the girls will not be charged criminally, however, they will likely be sued civilly by the victim; and the victim will win.

Parents are responsible for the actions of their children, a lot of the time this means financially.

It’s OK to be involved, interested and diligent. Your lives and your children’s lives are worth it.

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