Vandalism and Sabotage

This evening, Dear Husband and I sat in the living room while we had a quick dinner. We were watching the news and there were two stories in particular that caught our attention.
First, at a Boeing plant in Pennsylvania, a Chinook helicopter going through final assembly was found to have cut wires. A second helicopter had a washer where it didn’t belong. It gave me the chills to think that someone would willingly damage these helicopters, knowing that the crews who flew them might possibly die.
We both felt that this story was underplayed in the news. I checked for the story at CNN before I began writing tonight, and felt they had underplayed it as well. Perhaps there is a reason for this. It may be that they didn’t have the details yet. They may have not wanted to speculate (although that doesn’t seem to bother a lot of TV news departments these days). Perhaps Boeing was not willing to have their name splashed over the news for substandard products, although it was clearly an act of sabotage. They may have chosen to keep a lid on the story as security tries to determine what happened, and who might have had the opportunity to do the damage.
The second story was similar in a way, but was really one of local impact. Four or five students at a Chicago middle school vandalized the school. The news staff interviewed dozens of people from school staff and administration right up the chain of command to Mayor Daley. The school authorities have not decided just what will happen to these students, but there is discussion of expelling them from school.
Tables were turned over, books and papers thrown to the floor. Something was spread over, or ground into the carpet, and perhaps some equipment was damaged. All these things could be repaired.
If the students are expelled, just what does that mean? Will they be free to run around while the rest of the students finish out the last month of school? Will they be allowed to return to school next fall, and repeat the year, or do they have to find a way to finish the last semester on their own? I can see I really need to talk with my sister, Nan, who teaches kids “at risk.” Her school provides kids with their last chance at a public education before they are asked to leave the system.
Dear Husband and I were of the opinion that in-school suspension, no extra-curricular activity, and time spent cleaning up either their mess, or other messes, would be a better choice than expulsion. By taking them out of an arena where they get any reinforcement for what they’ve done, and by making them work to repair damage, it would take the “fun” out of the rampage. Now would be a good time for these students to learn that you have to be responsible for your action.
Let me say that we are concerned that a story which has national impact received less coverage than this local story. While it occurred out of state, had the damage not been discovered, the sabotage would have increased our concerns about terrorism, and it could have had a global impact. Perhaps terrorists have found a subtle way to redirect our focus, forcing us to review all that we do. How can we know if we’ve hired a saboteur, or a patriot?
On the other hand, perhaps we need to focus on the local level. If we “nip it in the bud” as Barney Fife used to say, we might head off problems in the future. Could it be that once a kid finds he can hold a school district hostage, be goes on to bigger projects? Do saboteurs act to support a political ideology, or are they kids who were once vandals, looking for a bigger thrill.
I don’t have the answers. As usual, I have a LOT of questions, but I certainly hope that those people who have chosen to work against society, be they child or adult, learn that you have to be responsible for your actions.

2 thoughts on “Vandalism and Sabotage

  1. it seems to me buffy, that we find all sorts of ways to excuse our children’s behaviour and hence they escape accountability. there are many reasons why kids behave in destructive ways, many of them are cries for help. excusing the behaviour doesn’t give the the help they need. we can recognise the plea and work to deal with it but they must still be held to account for their deeds. expulsion from the system may get them out of the building but just sets them free on the general public.
    i totally agree with you and fred. being given the job of repairing the damage they’ve done is more productive and while still in the system, they have the resources to get help. we can’t get to the bottom of a problem by abandoning them.
    as for the helicopter, that’s just evil.

  2. Vandalism strikes me as a revenge sort of thing–even though “revenge” may hurt people other than those against whom revenge is sought. There is no other way that I can account for vandalism. Psychologists/sociologists are delving ever more deeply into the seemingly inate human desire for revenge.

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