Today I read an article about the parents of two Seattle area teenage cheerleaders who have been suspending for “sexting” (sending sexually suggestive or explicit material through text messaging). The parents  have sued the Northshore School District  for failing to “evenly punish” the other students who distributed the photographs amongst some members of the student body. In recent years I’ve heard of similar lawsuits filed against school districts who have responded with suspensions for student hazing incidents, teacher-student relationships, etc.

This is an obvious example of a “big sin, little sin” mentality. What I mean is that culturally we are inclined to overlook any transgression that doesn’t duly infringe upon the rights of others if it jeopardizes the comfort, security, or potential of the offender. Parents should respond in such a way as to protect their children when they are placed in harm’s way, no doubt. However, in many cases within our culture, parents don’t want their children to be forced to accept responsibility for deviant behavior. In this particular case it appears the parents believe this is a serious issue, however,  it isn’t serious enough that the girls should have to suffer(much) for it. After all, isn’t public humiliation enough? However, if they must suffer any significant consequence, then someone else should go down with them (thus the reason for litigation).

In far too many cases, whether in the classroom, on the little league field, or anyplace where the self-esteem of young people is at stake, our culture doesn’t want our children to accept responsibility for their transgressions. If the offense isn’t egregious (and even if it is, in too many cases we see many young violent offenders getting very light sentences), then society dictates that the response of the governing authority shouldn’t go overboard in their response because we don’t want to ruin their potential and future. But the question is, if our young people aren’t learning how to make responsible decisions about 13, 14, and 15 years old, will they be able to make them at 25? 35? 45? If we constantly give people a free pass when they make mistakes, will they ever learn from them at all?