When I hear the words “I’m bored” spew out of one of my children’s mouths, I cringe, but I also welcome the challenge.
Boredom is where creativity blooms. It’s an important reminder to think outside the box, to discover new interests and to carefully consider why the state of boredom has evolved so quickly in the first place.
In an age of overscheduled kids, an interesting perspective has emerged when it comes to the association between scheduled extracurricular activities, boredom and the urge to commit crimes.
According to a study conducted by Ipsos, seven in 10 parents believe that young people commit crimes because they have nothing to do and nowhere to go. Many parents that I’ve spoken to in my own circles seem to feel the same way.
There appears to be a common belief among parents that it’s a crime for kids to be bored - quite literally.
The North Vancouver School District recently won a case against the parents of four teens who set fire to the roof of an elementary school, causing approximately $70,000 in damages. As a result, the parents of the 13-year-old boys will have to cover the costs to repair the damages caused by the rooftop bonfire.
While I agree that the parents should take financial responsibility for the costs accrued by the act of arson committed by their children (who, as minors, are still the responsibility of their parents), I have been surprised by the comments from other parents that have ensued as a result.
Many parents seem to believe that “bored kids” are to blame for the crime committed. Some express relief that their children are enrolled in several sports and other extracurricular activities so that they’re kept busy and out of crime’s way.
I think overloading the after-school calendars of kids primarily to keep them out of trouble is a hefty price to pay, and a misguided contingency plan. I’d like to think that my children refrain from criminal acts because I’ve taught them to respect the property of others, not because I’ve kept them busy during their after-school hours.
I won’t make assumptions about why the boys who have been charged with the act of arson in North Vancouver chose to set fire to the school roof, but I don’t believe that “they were simply bored” is the answer either.
There are many great benefits to enrolling kids in sports and keeping them busy with activities, but if a child’s day is jam-packed with scheduled activities and screen time, there is also a risk of missing out on the opportunity to explore their imaginative, creative and intuitive tendencies.
When it comes to kids committing crimes, the problem doesn’t lie in the boredom itself, but in the children not learning how to channel that boredom in a safe and healthy way.
If parents present themselves as positive role models, set boundaries for their kids, teach them that there are consequences for their actions, and provide them with the right tools to engage in safe forms of self-entertainment, boredom can be the backbone to a child’s success, not the breaking point to put them behind bars.
Bianca Bujan is a mom of three, writer, editor and marketing consultant. Find her online at @bitsofbee.