All around the world kids get punished for their wrongdoing, be it disobeying an adult, be it disrespecting someone, be it trying to be rude otherwise. Not in kid-obsessed America though.
In America, kids get away with all kinds of inappropriate behavior you cannot imagine. They run wildly and yell outrageously in public places, talk back to adults, disobey, throw objects at people, destroy property, have no table manners, keep feet on seats, even spit chewed food out openly or throw food around. They even beat their parents – something so unimaginable in most cultures in the world – and are not punished for it. To make things even worse, too many people not only do not consider it wrong, but also think of this kind of behavior as cute or smart. Nobody reacts when a child misbehaves, neither the parents, nor the society. Encouraged by no discipline or even by applause from adults, kids get worse and worse in all kinds of rudeness and disrespect.
Can you imagine a thief breaking into your home and not being reported or prosecuted? Can you imagine other kinds of crime not being penalized? What would you think of the justice system if the society did not react to crime at all and if the government did not do its job in punishing wrongdoing? What would you think if people, when they hear about or witnesses some illegal act, reacted like: “oh, that’s so cute”, “that’s so clever”, “that’s so creative”?
I was lucky to grow up in a society that disciplined kids for all kinds of misbehavior. A child would not get away with any kind of rudeness or disrespect because there was always an adult – a parent, teacher, neighbor or relative – or an older kid to discipline it. The reaction of the society was immediate and the punishment unavoidable.
Years later, at the university, I attended classes in criminal law. When discussing the upsides and downsides of the death penalty, the professor told us that in order to be effective and a deterrent, a penalty does not have to be cruel, but it must be prompt and unavoidable. I learned this lesson in relation to crime, but at that time I did not yet relate it to life.
Only in kid-obsessed America, seeing all the unacceptable behavior by kids, I understood that the same principle was practiced every day by everyone in my society, that it was very effective and that it terribly lacked in this child-centric nation. The result of lack of this principle in force is deplorable.
In order to create a society with polite and respectful kids, prompt, unavoidable punishment and discipline should be instilled and enforced, not only by parents, but also by the society as a whole, especially by schools. In public places, everyone should react when seeing kids misbehave by requiring the parents to bring their offspring to order and restore respect. People should not be shy (unfortunately, in this kid-worshiping society they too often are) in demanding it. It is their basic right to be respected and to be able to enjoy public space.