Children and Guns

userpic=vnhsMany years ago, at a security conference, one of the keynote speakers said that the best way to attack someone is to sneak kiddie-porn onto someone’s computer into a hidden directory, and then report them. The implication being that whether or not they were eventually exonerated, their reputation would be ruined forever.

This came to mind as I’ve been reading the papers of late, where we are seeing more and more stories of alleged child abuse. Today brought a report of a Tarzana-area teacher charged with inappropriately touching three girls at a middle school. Yesterday, there was report of inappropriate activities — between 4 and 5 year olds — at a California pre-school. There were reports of an ex-priest hired by LAUSD who had a history of molesting. Certainly in LAUSD we’ve seen these reports on a regular basis. Yet when I was growing up, we never had such reports.

Now, I’m not trying to defend those truly guilty. Child abuse — verbal, sexual, or physical — is not to be tolerated. Period. End of story.

But I am worried about McMartin syndrome. I’m not sure how many people remember McMartin Preschool. This was a long expensive trial of pre-school owners where it turned out the children’s accusations were false, and had been suggested by the parents or counselors. I’m worried with all the media reports, that we could create an avenue of hysteria where innocent teachers may have claims made against them — claims that may ruin their careers. Especially in the area of child abuse and sex crimes, the attitude of society is to presume that accused is (as Doonsebury put it) guilty! guilty! guilty! How do we balance protection of our children with protection of the rights of the innocent? Already (at least to read the comments on article), one gets the impression that there is some segment of the population that already believes that every male teacher or priest has that proclivity.

You’re probably asking what this has to do with guns. First, there’s the issue of background checks. The gun proponents argue that increased background checks probably won’t do anything to affect gun violence. I can see some reasoning in that logic — after all, criminals likely get their weapons either illegally or from a relative who obtained it legally. The background checks only deter those on the edge. Similarly, I can see a call for increased background checks and investigations for those who work with our children. Will they stop these crimes? Very likely… no. It is likely quite rare that someone with something obvious in their background would apply to teach (knowing they would be rejected)… and preemptive testing to determine “traits” would be like saying that we can’t have gays in the military because they would attack their comrades. [As an aside, my wife had a suggestion to deal with this problem: simply bring back adult teacher’s aides. Having two adults in every classroom at all times will likely go a long way towards preventing these problems. Now if only there was a parallel with guns, but I don’t think there is such a thing as two-man trigger assault weapons]

The other parallel with guns is the effect of the media. There is already a culture of porn, just as there is a culture of violence. More significantly, society today has sexualized pre-teens. Look at any show on Discovery or TLC, and you’ll probably see what I mean. Who is watching Toddlers and Tieras–I mean, c’mon! What is the effect of this culture on society? We debate it for guns, but does it affect other areas? Further, what is the contribution of the Internet in all of this (I was going to title this post “What have we wrought?”)?

In short, I’m trying to figure out why we’re seeing more and more of these incidents — both gun violence and child abuse? We can attack the symptoms — this is what background checks and gun restrictions do (or, for that matter, going back to only having single unmarried schoolmarms). But what we really need to do is find out the cause. What has changed in society that is leading to this increase… or was it always there, and the changes to our media just mean we’re hearing about it more?


2 Replies to “Children and Guns”

  1. Similarly, I can see a call for increased background checks and investigations for those who work with our children. Will they stop these crimes? Very likely… no. It is likely quite rare that someone with something obvious in their background would apply to teach (knowing they would be rejected)

    I’m confused by your logic here. People don’t apply for jobs working with children if they have sketchy backgrounds because background checks are in place. It’s not an argument for eliminating the background checks.

    Same goes for stronger background checks on people who want to buy guns. Saying that criminals don’t get their guns legally isn’t an argument against background checks. There are many places that are currently off limits to criminals and others who shouldn’t have guns, because of the fact that background checks are in place. If the background checks weren’t there, criminals and others who shouldn’t have guns would find it easier to get guns because there would be more options for buying sources available to them.

    Do background checks eliminate the problem of criminals getting guns or pedophiles working with children? Of course not. By the same token, requiring drivers to meet licensing requirements doesn’t entirely eliminate traffic crashes, but no one would suggest that’s an argument for letting just anyone get behind the wheel of a car.

    1. I’m not saying to eliminate the background checks. They fall under due diligence. Rather, what I’m saying is that they will not likely catch everything. They will reduce the risk some, but not completely.

Comments are closed.