Dear Editor:

Whoever came up with this proverbial phrase must have been a child abuser, right? Wrong! Strangely enough, we are now living in times where you are not allowed to properly discipline your children, because they could have you arrested for child abuse. This is what just recently happened to a well known Pentecostal minister from Atlanta, Georgia, who I know myself to be a sincere man of God, and loving, dedicated father of his children.

Apparently, he had informed his 15-year-old daughter, that he did not want her attending a certain party on this particular late evening hour. She became irate and disrespectful to him, in which an emotional confrontation between both of them erupted. He immediately applied a mild physical response, deemed necessary from her father at this time. The older teenage daughter, who was also present, didn't like her father disciplining the younger sibling, so she called 911, made up a false accusation to tell the police, and her father was later arrested for child abuse.

Unfortunately, this is not a rare isolated incident, and this type of situation is becoming more and more prevalent among temporarily out of control teenagers in today's society. I can imagine my parent's generation would have all been behind bars for child abuse when we were young teenagers. I know if I was not in accordance with their rules of the household, while living under their provided roof over my head, and especially if I was disrespectful to them in anyway, I was sure to be physically assaulted by either my father or my mother on the spot.

Today, the lack of discipline has become a major problem in society, because the need for authority over young teenagers is being eliminated from most parenting, public schools and even in juvenile delinquent rehabilitation facilities, where strict discipline is absolutely essential in reducing poor behavior among out of control teenagers heading for nowhere.

Furthermore, I have a good friend who substitute teaches at one of the public Junior High Schools in our local area, and some of the stories he has told me concerning his monitoring experiences there are outrageous. The frequent use of extreme foul language by most of these young unruly juveniles is outwardly directed towards anyone of authority attempting to enforce any school regulations. The most shameful being the fact that the administrative leadership, who supposedly are in charge of enforcing the rules and punishment due to young "out of control" teenagers there, are continuing to turn a deaf ear to most of the bad behavioral situations.

I remember when my children were attending Catholic grade school, the principle sent home a letter to all of the parents stating; "The children's discipline should begin at home, and not to expect the Catholic school to be their children's only source of discipline. Discipline should be carefully implemented at home when a child is first learning the difference between right from wrong, without the punishment placed upon the child becoming overly extreme. If the child hasn't been taught this at a very early age in their life it becomes too late once they have become a teenager in those normally rebellious years, and the police are already showing up at your front door.

I believe the main problem with a lot of teenagers going bad today is the fact they come from dysfunctional families or a properly structured family with a married, caring mother and father at home. This is the reason we are seeing a growing number of gang activities throughout our country, with their membership rising at a rapid rate of mostly young teenagers, who are seeking to unite with a "family" type group of young people in a similar situation as they are. They then get hooked on drugs and alcohol, and it becomes an even greater problem for them with ramifications of committing crime, and jail time where for many of these poor lost souls, it is too late for them to recover a normal well structured life.

John M. "Jack" Selby

Hometown