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Who do you blame when good kids go bad?

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By Meaghan Downs

Thirty-five seconds.
The video kept recording the humiliation for about 10 minutes, but I had seen enough to convince me.  
What the eye sees, it can’t erase.
So I procrastinated on viewing the infamous “Making the Bus Monitor Cry” for days. I knew about how horrible it was, and believed all of the outrage.  
I don’t consider myself a member of the morality police, and typically err on the side of free speech.
But the middle school boys portrayed in the video were not exercising First Amendment rights.
They were exorcising hate speech — profanity, threats, taunts to the point of tears — against a 68-year-old grandmother, an act of pure senseless I don’t think I will ever be able to understand.
The video has reignited the old debate about nature versus nature, whose responsibility it is when good kids go bad:
Parents?
The kids?
Do children learn this behavior, or create it themselves?
Even the highest court in the land is torn on the subject of culpability for underage offenders.  
Five out of nine Supreme Court justices recently ruled against the idea of underage criminals being convicted to life in prison without a chance for parole.  
After more than 7 million views on YouTube, “Making the Bus Monitor Cry” hasn’t stopped viewers from weighing in on how the boys should be punished. Commentators have suggested creative and violent methods of ensuring the middle school students receive the message loud and clear.
Many, too many, act as though these teens represent all that is wrong and perilous about leaving the nation and the wrong in the hands of such despicable creatures.
I don’t suggest defending their actions.
A week later, I’m still angry about what I saw.
But I’d like to be able to defend this younger generation, if no one else will.  
According to an extensive 2010 Pew Research study that draws on more than two decades of conducted surveys, this generation is more accepting of immigrants, multi-racial families, couples and children, religions, change.
The same study said the majority of this generation (born after 1980) report that the older generation is superior to theirs when it comes to moral values and work ethic. To me, this isn’t Exhibit A of young people’s disregard for respect. Rather, it shows the opposite.
Fifty-two percent of these young people say being a good parent is the most important thing in their lives.
Only 1 percent said being famous was as equally important.
About 60 percent of young adults in this age range agree that families have a responsibility to let an elderly parent live with them if the parent so chooses.
Forty percent of adults ages 60 or older agreed with them.
Not convinced by statistics? Well, neither am I, just as I’m not convinced that a few boys equates to the failings of an entire generation.
If these boys were a part of that one percent wishing for fame, they’ve gotten it.
I’m sure this video will haunt them well into their college years.
But don’t make the mistake of creating scapegoats at the expense of others, or thinking that this kind of ugliness is all our society, including young people, has to offer. The same week this video went viral, donations came pouring in for Karen Klein, the abused bus monitor.
At last count, more than $640,000 was donated from people all over the world so that Klein could go on vacation.  
Max Sidorov was apparently one of first to establish this fundraising effort for Klein on indigogo.com.
His age? 25.