More good kids than bad

I’ve often been asked how I could work in probation for 30-plus years dealing with so many negative actions. Everyone I deal with has violated the law or been victimized.

I must say, sometimes the job gets pretty difficult to handle; however, the rewards have far outweighed the problems. We all need to realize there are far more good people in this world than bad.

I have dealt with people who have done some pretty bad things, but I have come to learn that many of them can and will become productive citizens in due time.

Many times I have had former clients come and thank me. Many have gone into law enforcement or become firefighters, doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurs, teachers, etc. One of those positive stories or cases seems to erase 100 difficult cases in my mind.

We need to be proud of the good kids in our community. I heard recently that some of the high schools had some junior high and grade school kids cause some problems at home football games. I was told the reaction was to notify all parents of children under ninth grade that they were not welcome at the home football games without a parent or guardian.

I would think the better thing to do would be to deal with the few who are causing the problems. If they do something wrong, notify their parents and don’t let them come back. I would think we want the other kids to be there. I know they could really care less about the game, but what’s wrong with kids being kids? They love to run around, throw footballs to each other and just visit.

Every kid is different, but most kids are good kids. As the chief probation officer, I would like to give a few tips to parents to possibly assist in making sure their kid is one of those good ones.

If there is basic human respect, so many other good character traits follow suit. Respect for authority also shows obedience. How often are we now hearing of police-action shootings or police officers being shot? It appears many are caused by a total lack of respect for the officer and not responding to basic commands. When told to stop, show me your hands, etc., a decent person needs to respond appropriately.

My son is a deputy sheriff. I have told him his No. 1 job is to come home safe at the end of his shift.

Officers have no idea of the intentions of the people they stop, so parents need to teach their children to respect their authority.

Respect for others covers kindness. Respect for oneself shows self-control and self-worth. Things like teasing and bullying happen in the absence of respect. Back talk, disobedience, laziness — same thing, they just don’t exist where respect is found. Cleanliness, self-control, follow-through and determination also are the product of respect.

I think manners are the most important thing for parents to teach their children. Manners raise a child’s social IQ and flag them as a reasonable, thoughtful person. Acting appropriately in a way that’s socially acceptable and respectful displays respect, care and consideration for others.

Excellent manners can help you to have better relationships with people you know and those you will meet. I go back to the simple task of holding a door for someone. It is amazing how such a small task can become such a positive thing.

Good manners convey respect to those you interact with and also command respect from those you interact with.

I’ve noticed that children who play games with their family and have a healthy experience with winning and losing at home seem to be better sports in general at school. Sportsmanship means being a good loser, but more importantly, being a quality winner.

I’ve never been a fan of just giving everyone a trophy. Sometimes the kids who do better do so because of their hard work and dedication. Striving to earn a trophy, in my opinion, is better than just being handed one.

I wish people would tell their children that showing up on time and doing all the work is 90 percent of life. So many of my probationers don’t understand this concept. If you show up for work and do your job, hey, your paycheck will keep coming.

A quality person trumps quality performance. Self-respect and respect for others are the foundation on which quality people are built. I’d rather coach a respectful kid 100 times more than a natural athlete with a poor attitude. What’s even better is that natural athlete who is a quality person as well.

I wish parents taught tolerance of everything: Religions, sexual orientation, personalities, race, etc. We would have many less angry people in the world if they were more tolerant and open. I certainly don’t understand some people, but I can respect their opinion as long as they are not hurting others.

If an individual cannot be honest, he or she will steal from others, lie (to get money or get out of trouble), cheat, give themselves permission to shoplift or take from others, develop an attitude of entitlement, etc.

As a young adult or teenager, the behavior begins as stealing a candy bar, skipping school, lying to parents, curfew violations, attitude and drama, or continued negative peer associations. As life continues, their circumstances get worse. I think of it like weaving a web. Don’t accept unacceptable behavior.

Take advantage of every opportunity you get, whether it’s doing your homework, talking to a person, watching a demonstration or listening to someone share their wisdom. You never know how much you can learn.

We all need to realize that most people are good. We need to treat people like we want to be treated. Too many people want to focus on the people conducting themselves in a negative manner and therefore forget about the ones who are truly good quality people.

I for one feel we have so many fantastic kids and people in Hancock County. Our entire community should be proud and should continue to work together to let the good kids know our appreciation.

Yes, we have plenty of naughty ones as well. I can’t even go to the jail anymore without it feeling like a family reunion because I know most of the people in there. But I will keep working, and hopefully one at a time they will finally become those productive members of our community.

Wayne Addison is chief probation officer for the Hancock County Probation Department.