Sitting here thinking about this year's senior class prank and the fallout that resulted causes me to wonder about past pranks and how they seem to have escalated. Each year's class wants to pull a prank that they think is one better than the previous year. In the past, eggs have been thrown against the buildings, locks have been super-glued, slogans have been painted on windows and walls, and it goes on and on.
This year's prank seems to have gained more attention due to the fact that those involved were caught and were identified as some of the more academically highly performing students.
In reading the comments in the Roundup and Gazette, some members of the community appear to accept whatever a teenager does as part of growing up. Pranks of this type are simply tolerated and accepted as part of the adolescent culture. It is doubtful that the majority of the community thinks this way; however, the majority may simply be frustrated with the feeling that nothing can be done or that no one is willing to do what it takes to change the direction our young people are taking.
Strictly speaking, pranks that cause others to expend their time and effort to fix, fall in the category of theft. The group pulling the prank is stealing from those who will be required to expend their time and resources to clean up the results of the prank. Some pranks society may consider being worth the effort and therefore are acceptable, others are not. The question is, how do our children know which is which? Who or what group has the responsibility to educate our children as to those actions that are socially acceptable and those that are not? Well, the typical answer is the parents have this responsibility; however, from the comments that have been published about this year's prank it is fairly clear that the parents have differing opinions as to the definition of what is acceptable.
Throughout the past year, we have read about students who drink, smoke, threaten and physically abuse others, and cause property damage with varying punitive actions by police and school officials. As a community, can we formulate a consensus as to acceptable behavior? Behavior that by definition is acceptable from all ages not segregated by age or grade in school or physical or mental capabilities. Should an athlete receive special consideration over a non-athlete? Should an honors student receive special consideration over any other student? Should those who conform to a certain dress code receive special consideration over those who dress differently?
Maybe what we think we are teaching our children is not what they are learning. Children learn mostly from what they see and how they are treated. Maybe the examples they see are not consistent with what we say they need to know or should be learning.
When over 10 percent of highly achieving students from a high school graduating class are involved in pranks that are considered criminal acts, some which are considered felony acts, it begs the question, "Are our children learning what they need to learn to become successful contributing members of the our future society?"
I, for one, would like to know what the community of Payson expects our graduates to have learned in 12 years of school. What do you think they should have learned before they graduate?