A priest who heads a rehabilitation home for the young discusses, in the diocesan bulletin, a serious problem which was highlighted recently when a video, widely circulated on the internet, showed high-school students, on a visit to a home for the aged, treating them abusively. The images went viral, generating a lot of comment, mostly critical of the students, and often quite angry. Their high-school also became the focus of a great deal of the criticism, and the school responded with a letter of apology, and expelled the students.
the article the priest expresses three reasons why he was astonished by
the incident. First of all, by the thoughtless actions of the
students, by the immediate comments made following the viewing of the
video, and by the subsequent response of the school.
is no question, of course, that what the students did was wrong; they
should have been rebuked and punished. However, there was no reference
to the responsibility of the society that had created the conditions
contributing to the incident. There was no concern, the priest said, for
the problems the children had in growing up, the difficulties they had
in the home and school, and no criticism for the supervisors who were
supposed to look after the students. The comments, he said, were only
attacks on the students.
the school did send out an apology and the students were expelled,
there was no attempt made to help them rejoin the human family. The
priest couldn't rid himself of the idea that the school was only
interested in protecting its image by punishing the students.
Disciplining the students was the proper action, he said, but by
neglecting to help them correct their behavior, the punishment could
only be seen as punishment for the sake of punishment.
refers to the time when Jesus said to those who dragged the woman
caught in adultery before him, "Let the man among you who has no sin be
the first to cast a stone at her" (John 8:7). Jesus brought her to where
she had sorrow for what was done, the priest explained. Though this
incident appears to be quite different, the love and concern Jesus
displayed for the woman was what the priest felt should have guided the
response of everyone, when the abusive conduct of the students became
there has been a great deal of concern for the problems of the young,
with many TV programs talking about the crisis. The priest hopes that we
will be able to learn how to move forward from this crisis of the
young, resolving many of its most pressing issues by having the kind of
heart Jesus has revealed to us.