Having a license was, at one time, considered a privilege. Today, there are certainly restrictions on teen driving, but most other drivers have a sense of entitlement: as long as I don’t get caught by a cop, the logic goes, I’m free to do anything I want on the road.
Teenagers, some of whom abuse the privilege, are no different. We’ve all been driving down a country road at night and seen a teenager in a bucket of bolts flying by in the other direction, far too quickly. And you might even think to yourself, “wow, I hope he gets into an accident and learns his lesson.”
Austin Smith did get into an accident, but instead of learning his lesson and moving on with a better view on how to drive properly, his parents felt compelled to ask other busybody morons on the road to babysit their child for them.
Instead of dealing with society’s problems in a natural and realistic way, we’ve decided that a constantly surveilled society is best. Call someone up when you see something go wrong; install a camera on your street corner; forget the real source of the issue. I can understand the need for it in one sense, but most of it stinks of a lack of responsibility on the part of the party asking for surveillance in the first place – especially when it comes to parents & their kids. Parents have stopped taking responsibility for their children and trusting them to act in a responsible way when they are out of the house – and you can’t blame them when you look around at what most other kids & their parents are doing (or not doing). But it’s definitely a bit too far when you essentially tell your kid that he or she has to wear a “kick me” sign with a phone number on the back, so that any jerk with a vendetta can call a number and report them to a false authority figure.
Isn’t this a bit like layering a false police force on top of the real one? The police can only do so much and aren’t everywhere at once, so these parents feel that their child should have a sign on their car asking for people to report them if they cut someone off or run a yellow light turning into a red. I’ve got news for these parents: most of the idiot drivers out there are right in their own mirrors. Because these parents feel a sense of false authority over their teenagers without any real family structure, they feel the need to chain them down with token gestures like these instead of focusing on their own failures at parenting. And how do you think these kids will react once they are free of useless tactics like these bumper stickers? They will end up resenting all authority for the fact that they were never trusted to behave well and be recognized for it, even though they could have done so on their own.
If I had a bumper sticker on my kids’ car, I’d put the number 911 on it, then in bold print underneath: “call the cops if he’s breaking the law; otherwise, stop tailgating.”