TL;DR – He’s just a kid.
You would probably have seen this image by now:
That’s an image of the boy who got caught showing the middle finger on national TV. And not just on any programme, but the ‘live‘ telecast of this year’s National Day Parade. That boy’s actions drew a range of responses.
Some people turn into expert parents. They started criticising the parents for not educating the child proper manners. Why didn’t the boy’s parents teach him that such gestures are impolite? If they did, then the boy surely wouldn’t have behaved in such a way! Surely any good parents won’t let their children do such a shameful act on national TV!
The school also responded. The day after the event, the school released a statement saying that the boy regrets his actions and is deeply apologetic. The statement also added that the boy was counselled to ensure that he learns from this incident.
Then there are people who treated the boy as if he was a hero. They suggested that the boy must have been upset with being forced into participating in the NDP. And he had the guts to to show his displeasure. That’s braver than all the other participants who might also have been unhappy to have been “volunteered” to participate in the NDP but just quietly accepted their fate. Those people predict that the boy will grow up to do great things.
The boy is still a boy…
Look. The boy is still just that.
A young boy.
Was he upset at being made to take part in the NDP? Perhaps. Maybe that’s why he showed that gesture. Even if he was, was he really making a statement with that gesture? Probably not. What’s likelier is that the boy was just being mischievous and playful. Any boy his age could have done what he did. He probably didn’t fully understand the consequences of his actions.
Did he “regret” his actions? Was he “deeply apologetic” for his actions? Can a boy his age really be deeply apologetic for anything? For something like that? Most likely not. He may have felt a little embarrassed because an image of him being “counselled” had also gone quite viral. And that’s probably the only reason why he regretted his actions – because his actions got him “counselled” and probably punished.
Who needs to learn a lesson from this?
One thing is for sure. What the boy did was wrong. And the boy needs to learn that it’s wrong. Even if he is upset, what he did wasn’t the proper way to express his displeasure. Therefore, celebrating what he did, calling him a hero, endorsing what he did, will make it harder for the boy to learn his lesson. It will make it tougher for the boy’s parents and teachers do an already difficult task of helping the boy move past this unfortunate incident.
Indeed, the parents and the teachers of the boy have an unenviable task. They need to be firm with the boy, and find some ways to impress upon the boy that what he did was wrong. Not only that, they need to find ways to convince him that he must not do such a thing again. But they need to do so without hurting the boy’s self-esteem.