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Andrea Traynor Headshot

The Day My Friend's Baby Was Shot

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They were at a cottage. Just two days ago on a crisp September morning.

My friend sat on a raft with her 19-month-old little boy while her husband went into the lake to swim with their eldest daughter.

They were cuddling and soaking up the sunshine when she heard a strange noise; her toddler started to shake and wail uncontrollably. You can read the full account of what happened next here, but it's important to know that it was intentional -- because when her husband rushed over to them, another pellet hit the boat beside them.

Fast-forward a few hours and they were confronting a 13-year-old boy and his parents just three cottages away. All three nonchalantly admitted that he'd been shooting into the water.

There was no apology. There was no concern for the baby, bleeding and stunned from being grazed by a pellet that could have been aimed at his chest. No gasps. Not even a "thank God" that the child hadn't lost an eye -- or worse.

Yes, the 13-year-old should have known better. But was it his fault? I'm not so sure.

After all, these sound like the same parents who point fingers at teachers when their kids are given detentions. As if their kids couldn't have possibly done anything wrong.

It's parents like these creating entitled children who grow up never having to take responsibility for their actions.

Twenty-five years ago, if my brother or I had even accidentally shot anyone -- much less a baby -- with a gun, we'd have been lucky to see daylight for the next month. There would have been mea culpas galore, and it would have started with my parents. They would have thrown "I'm so sorry" at the victim and his parents until they were blue in the face.

But not these parents.

In fact, after my friend called the OPP in Bancroft, these parents changed their story. They denied their son had anything to do with the shooting when police questioned them. They denied there was even a gun in the cottage.

And the OPP said there's nothing they could do. No grounds for a search warrant. My friend's word against theirs.

No charges laid.

So what does that teach this boy? That you can physically harm another human being, and if you lie you can get away with it. That no matter what you do, your parents will come to the rescue. That police don't always get the bad guy.

This new breed of parenting has got to stop. We need to make our kids admit to and atone for their wrongdoings. But to do that, we must first teach them right from wrong. And that is your job, mom and dad.

Stop lying to yourselves, parents. Your kids aren't perfect and they will make mistakes -- and that's OK. It's how you deal with those mistakes that will help shape the people they become. Teach them empathy. Teach them how to apologize. Teach them that when you do bad things, there are consequences.

And then ground their asses. Take away their precious smartphones and video games. Don't drive them to school if they have two legs that will get them there just as easily. Unplug the TV. Change the laptop's password. Provide a list of daily chores. Just do something. Punish bad behaviour using whatever "currency" is important enough for your kid to take notice.

If you take your child's side every time without really examining who's at fault, you're not doing him or her any favours. And you'll have only yourself to blame when your kid is the one behind the barrel of the gun.

CORRECTION: The word "bullet" was used to describe what was shot at the baby in an earlier version of this post. The child was shot with a pellet.

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