I have gotten a slew of e-mails reacting to Wednesday's column ("Being Pushed Too Far By A Spoiled Brat") on the 10-year-old boy who reportedly terrorized the father and his 5-year-old son Friday at the Amherst Pepsi Center. The boy deliberately shot pucks at the father, Charles Schmidl, and his son while they skated at the rink, and made obscene and abusive comments.
Unable to find rink staff or security to intervene, Schmidl said he eventually grabbed the boy by the jacket and dragged him off the ice. Schmidl was arrested for harassment and endangering the welfare of a child.
The e-mails almost unanimously backed my view that, although the father was wrong to put his hands on the 10-year-old, a kid who is this out of control is the product of bad parenting. Kids this obnoxious and confrontational don't happen overnight, they are the result of years of parental excuses, lack of consequences and failure to make the boy responsible for his actions.
Having said that, it is worth noting that the polar extreme of this tale is splashed on the front page of Wednesday's paper. Anyone who thinks that many kids these days are criminals-in-the-making has only to check out the five teenaged girls headed for National Science Bowl. They are the first all-female team to make the finals in the contest's 17-year history. The girls, all African-American, attend local high schools and represent Buffalo Prep, a college-prep program attended after regular school hours.
Congratulations to them … and to their parents, who instilled their kids with the values of hard work and responsibility.
-- Donn Esmonde