Promoting Empathy With Your Teen

The most efficient way to address everyday issues with your teen

A Culture of Mercilessness

Role modeling compassion to your teen

About a year ago, I came across a you tube video clip of a tackle that took place during a college football game. This was no ordinary tackle, as it involved one football player charging full speed into another player who had possession of the ball. The football player who had been hit sailed a few feet backwards above the ground,  with his helmet tumbling inches further behind his head. The football player who made the tackle, began executing a celebratory dance as soon as his victim hit the ground. For about two seconds the other player lay motionless on the ground, while the other player danced and gestured. In less than 12 hours since the footage had been posted,  it had garnered more than 3 million views. In the comment section, viewers celebrated the play.

It is with this same mentality I believed the young men who sexually assaulted their female peer had, and still have. They found someone vulnerable, took advantage of her,  and celebrated their behavior with others and the world to see. Disagree with me? Go on any major news website and watch the footage of the trial leading up to the sentencing. Why is it that the defense for the teens fought off accountability to the very end, and didn't let up even when the girl the boys humiliated had to come in and testify. It was only after being found to be adjudicated delinquents, that both boys broke down in tears and expressed remorse for their actions. 

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My intent is not to make the boys out to be villains, but to draw awareness to the cultural mindset they were raised in. A cultural mindset of merciless hyper competition, which leaves no room for compassion or empathy. The fact that no reasonable adult in the boys' defense saw it fit for the boys to plead guilty so as to save the girl further pain and discuss compensation to the girl and her family, is evidence of a cultural madness. Then again if those two teens subscribed to a mentality of compassion for others, this incident would next have happened.  

So if you, a decent human being find yourself raising your child in such a cultural mindset, what can you do? Role model what you want your child to become. Don't be afraid to pull your son or daughter off that sports team (for a reasonable length of time) if he or she has done something hurtful to someone. Most parents resort to this action after bad grades, but such actions should also be extended for bad behavior, particularly bad behavior towards others.  

During a recent soccer tournament here in Tucson, some coaches and parents were booted from the venue for verbally abusing the referees and tournament organizers for calls they disagreed with. When I heard of this, I wondered why in the world, parents would allow they children to witness adults behaving badly on their team. Then again, some of the culprits where parents too. I would waste no time pulling my child from that team, and letting him or her know why. 

Teaching your child accountability and compassion goes a long way, positively.  

So what are your thoughts? All respectable agreements or disagreements with this post are most welcome.

Ugo is a psychotherapist and owner of Road 2 Resolutions, a professional counseling and life coaching private practice located in Tucson AZ.

Ugo Uche is a Licensed Professional Counselor who specializes in adolescents and young adults.

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