Tragic death should serve as teachable moment

“If there’s anybody that understands teenagers making mistakes, it’s my mom and me,” John Schafer said last week. “If it was truly just some kids that didn’t know any better or were just being stupid kids, and not anything more than that, I think my mom would understand.”

But Schafer, 19, is speaking in the past tense about his mother because at least two 16-year-old boys DID allegedly do something that was at the very least stupid. They are accused of intentionally dislodging a 75-pound log and sending it over a cliff at Hocking Hill State Park, where it plummeted onto Victoria Schafer, killing her.

Schafer’s family and friends seem to agree they would like her death to raise awareness among parents and kids.

“One thing I know to be true is this: Victoria would simply want the result of all this to be increased safety and awareness at all parks,” her sister told The Washington Post.

News stories such as this one, or about young people who threw rocks, concrete blocks, bricks … whatever they can find that causes serious injury or death to those below, are all too common.

Teenagers do stupid things. But parents must not waste this opportunity to talk to them about being smarter.

Some parents and guardians who believe they are showing their kids how much they love them by shielding them from consequences — by teaching them that if they shoot themselves in the foot, someone else will bleed for them — are doing their kids and the rest of society a terrible disservice. Now is the chance to show them what can happen if they fail to think of others; if they think only of what seems cool or fun to them in the moment.

Schafer’s family is being incredibly gracious in their approach, hoping her death will make a difference for someone else.

Parents, talk to your kids. Don’t let them down.


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