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    Posted March 8, 2014 by
    Turlock, California
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Student voices in journalism

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    Stop with the "Kids will be kids"


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     California high school student Invigorated says excusing the bad behavior of people like Justin Bieber with the notion that “kids will be kids” sets a bad example for other young adults. She was prompted to write this essay after listening to Toronto Mayor Rob Ford excuse Bieber’s recent run-ins with the law. ‘It’s bad enough that Bieber put countless lives in danger by driving under the influence, but the fact that Ford, or anyone for that matter, would try to trivialize the offense is simply abominable,’ she said. ‘I most certainly believe that the “kids will be kids” sentiment is a misrepresentation of youth. I’ve seen so many of my peers volunteer at homeless shelters, organize school blood drives, start small businesses, conduct scientific research, and take college-level classes. It’s a shame that the kids doing these amazing things often don’t receive the same attention as their peers -- such as Bieber,’ she said.
    - Jareen, CNN iReport producer

    Few pop culture events in recent memory have elicited more proverbial eye rolls, disapproving head shakes, and “kids these days” comments than Justin Bieber’s DUI and positive drug test debacle. The teen pop star, who was caught drag racing in Miami beach under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, and Xanax, kicked off a storm of controversy as celebrities, fans, and even the First Lady voiced their views.

    Beleaguered Toronto Mayor Rob Ford took time from his web of lawsuit entanglements to also weigh in on the Biebs’s bad behavior. On the Washington, D.C.-based radio show “The Sports Junkies” he said, “Well you know what, he’s a young guy…he’s nineteen years old guys. Think back to when you were nineteen.”

    Mr. Ford also interjected some praise for Bieber’s affluence in-between his age defense comments. “At nineteen years old, I wish I was as successful as he was,” Mr. Ford said.

    No doubt, Bieber stands at the helm of a wildly lucrative empire, and I don’t begrudge his fame and wealth at all. In fact, I agree with Mr. Ford that it’s admirable that, at such a tender age, Bieber’s been able to make such an indelible mark on the modern pop culture scene. However, it’s a sad state of affairs when attempts are made on the behalf of anyone to trivialize a DUI. Mr. Ford and others may offer age and affluence as explanations for Bieber’s behavior, but neither of those things can excuse it.

    I have not yet crossed the nineteen-years-of-age mark, so I am unable to follow Mr. Ford’s recommendation of recalling the havoc wreaked by my nineteen-year-old self and then developing a newfound sympathy for Bieber. I am, however, able to imagine as a sixteen-year-old what I would want to transpire should I, heaven forbid, ever find myself in a tight spot like Bieber has. I wouldn’t want justifications. I wouldn’t want a pity party. I’d want a frank, raw conversation that would help me realize the seriousness of my offense.

    Downplaying misdeeds, in whatever name or intention, is nothing more than a disguised disservice. This ever-prevalent societal sentiment that “kids will be kids,” that teenagers are essentially bound to botch, muff, and muck up, is both harmful and hurtful. By perpetuating this notion that young people are programmed to stir up mayhem, society essentially gives them license to do so. If I’m wired to wreck, the teenage mind goes, then what good is it to even bother striving for something different?

    Second, this “kids will be kids” attitude is yet another unsavory ingredient added to the stereotypical soup of youth. Show me one young person who has gone to the dark side, and I’ll show you ten who are incredible trailblazers, activists, entrepreneurs, researchers, inventors, volunteers, and thinkers. I work regularly with fellow teenagers in a variety of service programs — ones that counter the illiteracy epidemic in America and ones that raise money for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan. I’ve seen my peers rally with hundreds of other students outside the California State Capitol for stricter enforcement of tobacco regulations. I’ve watched a friend persevere through the early arduous phases of establishing an online jewelry business.

    So, when Mr. Ford expresses his give-Bieber-a-break remark, insinuating that Bieber’s criminal activities are nothing more than what young people in Bieber’s circumstance would be doing and are nothing more than what young people across-the-board are doing, no doubt Mr. Ford is simply voicing his opinion. But that opinion is emblematic of a larger societal problem of misrepresenting teenagers, something that I — along with the population of my supposedly precipitant, pococurante peers — lament is terribly unfair.

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