Rosh Ha’ayin outrage

Only no-nonsense hard-line measures will help stem the tide. Teenagers will think twice if they see that their crimes have consequences and parents will be more vigilant lest they be left holding the bag.

broken window crime vandalism 311 (photo credit: Thinkstock )
broken window crime vandalism 311
(photo credit: Thinkstock )
The vandalism by more than a dozen Rosh Ha’ayin teenagers in their vacationing teacher’s home is not the first incident of its sort, though this one is cumulatively worse than the more common incidents in terms of its viciousness, duration and premeditation.
Yet public reactions abounded with the usual hackneyed handwringing, eye-rolling, preachy platitudes and ambiguous apportionment of blame. It is safe to predict that nothing will come of all the vehement verbiage.
The bottom line is our societal inhibition to make the buck stop with the parents. Until they are made responsible, their offspring will continue to misbehave badly, if not to go on a rampage.
The boys – who invaded their teacher’s home, partied wildly there, drank her liquor, ran up debts on her credit cards, defecated everywhere, abused her dog, trashed and ransacked the place – are all described as hailing from “normative homes.” They didn’t wreak havoc in one foolish ill-considered spasm of youthful indiscretion.
Their nasty romp lasted for days, which rules out momentary thoughtlessness.
At the same time their young age is sure to shield them from the full punitive force available to the judicial system. The custom in Israeli courts is that the younger the delinquent, the more lenient his sentence. The parents are already pleading for indulgence because the offenders are “mere children.”
They thereby send the wrongest message possible to their sons – as well as to the sons of all other parents – in effect telling everyone that rowdiness is tolerable, excusable and forgivable.
The parents and assorted experts from academia are sure to look for culprits anywhere but in the homes where these vandals were reared, which clearly shielded them from effective discipline and failed to impose upon them minimal guidelines to acceptable conduct.
But attempts to censure the schools or society in general are worse than cop-outs. They amount to issuing licenses for more youngsters to throw off the last yoke of elementary civility.
There is no point demanding from Education Ministry bureaucrats to wave their magic wands and conjure up an instant solution. Elected officials, who have a transient relationship with the education system, cannot be relied upon for immediate panaceas either.
The problem will not go away while permissiveness toward children, at home, school and in all public places continues. This is not a uniquely Israeli problem, but one that plagues the entire Western world where children’s whims are increasingly pandered to and grown-ups fear to say “no.”
This is not a function of socioeconomic deprivation. In fact, adolescent misconduct is frequently more pronounced in relatively affluent communities.
Neither can the problem be ascribed to overcrowded classrooms. Previous generations of Israelis attended even more crammed facilities but were not violently disruptive. Anything goes was not the norm.
The time has come to get back to basics at home and in school. Both must become authoritarian to some degree, with zero tolerance not only for violence but also for impudence, unruly conduct and discourtesy.
Israeli society almost prides itself on rearing ill-mannered youngsters, verbally impolite, physically pushy and demanding from early on. This is promoting collective sociopathic patterns, which are bound to manifest themselves later on in life. Cheeky kids are not cute.
They are the ugly Israelis of the future. They start out being fresh, go on to shove their way past peers and elders and cheat on exams. They then become violent in school or behind the wheel.
Nothing will improve till we undergo a profound change of attitude.
Rosh Ha’ayin’s outrage can mark the beginning. The parents of the loutish teens who inflicted misery on their teacher should not be allowed to get away with anything.
They ought to pay to repair the damage caused her home in full, down to the last agora, and they should pay her adequate compensation for the anguish their boys wrought.
Only such no-nonsense hard-line measures will help stem the tide. Teenagers will think twice if they see that their crimes have consequences and parents will be more vigilant lest they be left holding the bag. There is ample recourse for this in the law.