Many times in our society, the actions of a child are blamed on the parents. It is a commonly held belief that a child acts as his parents have taught him to act, and thus the parents should hold partial responsibility, if not shoulder the entire blame for their offspring’s actions.
I seem to always be included in the minority who believe that a child, or young adult, as the case may be, is fully responsible for their own actions, unless there is evidence of abuse or negligence by parents. I know that if I decided to bring a gun to school and shoot some of my classmates, it would not necessarily be because my parents did a poor job of raising me. It could possibly be because I am not particularly sane. It would not be my parents’ fault, nor should any of the blame be placed on them.
Now, you might be asking why I am delving into such a complex and controversial subject. The answer lies within a story that has haunted me since high school.
Attending Mt. Miguel High School in Spring Valley (San Diego for any of you who have never heard of the actual city) has been one of the most fulfilling experiences in my life. I made friends with those whom I am still in contact; I learned an enormous amount of information, both scholastic and life experience; and I studied under one of the most caring, helpful, involved teachers that I have ever had.
Patricia Curtis was both my journalism teacher, newspaper adviser and mentor. She was willing to counsel me when I was experiencing difficulty in classes, in life, with friends, etc. She was strict to the curriculum, but imparted it in such a way that I was learning journalism rules without even realizing it.
During my senior year of high school, in the neighboring city of La Mesa, a controversy sprung up where racially hateful fliers were being mailed to homes with La Mesa Police Department insignia included.
As it turned out, I learned after I graduated, Patricia’s son, Alex Curtis, was reportedly found to be the source of the hate mail.
Delving into Alex’s past, as reported in the San Diego Union-Tribune, one could find a pattern of bigoted behavior. He was expelled from Helix High School in 1993 for break-ins that resulted in vandalized classrooms and notes saying “The Ku Klux Klan is watching, and we’re not happy with what we see.”
Curtis also reportedly maintains a hate-filled web site, a magazine, and a telephone hotline in San Diego County. In fact, he was recently named “a rising star among bigots” by the Anti-Defamation League.
Now, one of the first reactions from a lot of people probably involves questioning the way in which Curtis was raised. Perhaps his parents are racist? you might be asking.
Neither Patricia nor her husband are racist. They each have too much love in their hearts for others.
Curtis himself has stated on several occasions that he taught himself to hate, and that his parents do not share his views.
His sister is not like him. The hundreds of students who have studied under Patricia are not like him. Neither she nor her husband should be blamed.
I know that there will always be people who place blame on the parents. There is nothing that can be done to change that point of view. But I ask you to consider everything that you have ever done, and ask yourself, if you feel that your parents were responsible for your actions.
Heather Baxter, a junior journalism major, is assistant sports editor of the Campus Times. She can be reached by e-mail at baxterh@ ulv.edu.