Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Time to tighten the definition

What does good kid mean?

I see the term used today in what, in another era, would have been deemed inappropriate context.

A kid who kicks in a door to commit burglary is not a good kid. But that's what someone said about a 14-year-old boy shot dead while apparently committing such a crime in Dallas, Texas:
"He was a good kid," said Jeremy Dunn, a classmate. "He was funny; a good kid to hang around. But sometimes he hung around with the wrong crowd and [did] the wrong thing."
Tulsa, Oklahoma shooting suspect Jake England has also been described as a good kid by a family friend.

The definition of good kid has become really sloppy, a cliche that works its way into too many crime stories just because the perp (or suspect) is a young (or at least young-ish) male. 

We really do have a lot of good kids out there. But others aren't so good. Even the worst kid may have some positive aspects, but there are limits on how far we should go in overlooking the bad and just touting what's perceived as good.

A kid who kicks in a door to burglarize a home is not a good kid. Neither is anyone who randomly guns down innocent people.

It's time to tighten our definition of what constitutes a good kid.

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