We are not naive enough to think 13- and 14-year-olds don't know a thing or two about sex. Innocence, it seems, is lost at a younger and younger age with each passing generation.
Still, what is alleged to have taken place on a Greenwood School District 50 bus should give us all cause for concern about what, if anything, is being done within some homes to instill the most basic ability to discern right from wrong.
School-aged children play jokes on each other. They tease each other, they bully each other and yes, they sometimes engage in what typically is harmless giggle-producing banter driven by hormones but stops short of the sort of activity that reportedly took place aboard that bus in early September.
The teenaged boys are now facing serious charges on the allegations they coerced a mentally disabled 17-year-old girl to perform oral sex. She reportedly complied because, as she told investigators, she wanted them to be her friends. The act was captured on video, which was then posted on Facebook.
These boys, if the allegations are found to be true, seemingly have no sense of decency, no sense of right and wrong. Their moral compass is perpetually spinning out of control.
Can they be redeemed? Can they be salvaged? Perhaps so, but they still deserve swift and harsh punishment. They took advantage of a young girl who obviously is already facing challenges beyond the upheaval teen years brings. They have potentially damaged her self-respect and shown total disregard for another human being's sense of worth. Again, they behaved in such a manner that would lead anyone to question what direction, if any, they are receiving at home.
We are not wholesale blaming the parents for the actions of their children, but cannot help wondering if parenting - or lack of parenting - played a key role in this tragic and horrific case.