When you are an adult, you know right from wrong. If you see something wrong, you try to fix it. If you can’t do it, you find someone who can. When it comes to crime, you report it to police. Even children understand what’s right and wrong. If they see something wrong, they tell their parents, teacher or some other adult. The culprit, be it a sibling, friend or bully, might call them a name – like “tattletale” or worse. But the kid tells because it’s the right thing to do. The culprit needs to learn there are consequences for his actions.
That is such an important lesson to learn. Too often today people don’t think they need to be held accountable. They like to turn it around and say they are the victim – due to whatever wrong has happened to them in their lives.
It’s scary to think how much more unruly the world would be without any accountability.
Anyway, something happens to us when we are teens. Our brains get messed up. We start to think we are invincible. We take risks without thinking of the consequences.
I did it. Most of my friends did it. Now I just thank God that nothing I ever did caused myself or someone else great pain.
During these years we develop a crazed sense of loyalty. That is not an overstatement. It really is crazy. No rationally thinking person would do some of the things many of us did in our teen years. I think back to how loyal I was to some high school friends who I lost touch with only a few years later. These were not the lifelong friends I thought they would be. Since graduation in 1975 I only see most of them at reunions. We talk about “remember the time.” We laugh, but really it was stupid. We are lucky to be alive.
If I was thinking right, I would have not have joined in with them. I would have told their parents. While my silence didn’t cost anyone their life, it could have.
Years ago, I watched one of the most terrifying movies I have ever seen. It wasn’t a slasher movie. It was terrifying to me because I knew something like that really could happen.
The movie is called, “The River’s Edge,” starring Keanu Reeves. It is about a boy who kills a girl and then takes classmates to see her body at the river’s edge. The scariest thing is for the longest time nobody told. Finally someone did the right thing because it bothered their conscience so much.
Certainly if an adult or young kid would have seen what happened, they would have told. It was wrong. Someone needed to be held accountable. But because it was during the teen years, everyone was quiet. I can’t recall if it was because they were afraid of the killer, if they were friends of the killer, if they didn’t like the girl … Whatever the reason, it doesn’t matter. It was wrong and authorities needed to be told. The killer has to be held accountable or he could do it again.
Sadly, a similar story is taking place locally in Marysville. If someone is willing to kill, they are not the person you thought they were. Don’t let them convince you that you will get in trouble, too. The legal system is set up to help those who help them. Don’t worry about retribution. The killer will be in jail.
If it was an accident that can be proved. If you were pressured to participate in any way that will be taken into account.
If you don’t want to do it for Robbie, or his family and friends, do it for yourself. The guilt will gnaw at you forever.
Steve Powell is the managing editor of The Marysville Globe and The Arlington Times newspapers.