This week, in our own local news, there was a story that made me shake my head for many reasons.

According to the Bangor Police Department, a resident at a local housing complex in Bangor called the authorities after finding someone had spray-painted what appeared to be racial slurs and offensive lettering all over his vehicle.

Sgt. Wade Betters shared some details in a press release:

"Officers began checking the neighborhood, and shortly thereafter, detained two, 15-year-old females. Both juveniles were issued summonses for Criminal Mischief, a Class D crime. Ultimately, both juveniles were released to the custody of a parent."

Let's pause there for a second and add some context, keeping in mind that last line "...released to the custody of a parent."

This is from the City Of Bangor, Maine Facebook Page:

"On Friday night, one of our citizens of Pakistani descent was victimized, his vehicle vandalized and spray-painted with racist slurs. Two juveniles have been charged in connection with this crime.

A post on social media showed the vandalism.

So the allegation is that 15-year-old girls targeted the car of an individual of Pakistani descent and vandalized it with what could, if deemed so by authorities, be classified as hate speech, as Sgt. Better's explains:

"Our criminal investigation division is following up on this case, as the alleged criminal behavior may have violated the (Maine Civil Rights Act). When the investigation is complete, it will be sent to the Office of the Maine Attorney General for review. "

The City Council came forward over the weekend issuing a statement condemning the incident:

"We, the members of the Bangor City Council, categorically condemn this incident and want to make clear this is not representative of our community. Silence by those in positions of authority only emboldens those that seek to divide."

And the reaction from the new Superintendent of Schools, James Tager, issued on the Bangor School Department Facebook Page, echoed the statement made by city officials:

"Safety and nondiscrimination is not only an expectation but at the heart of our commitment to students and their families...Every student, employee, and member of our community deserves to feel safe, respected and celebrated...On the eve of a new school year, we reaffirm our commitment to inclusion through both thought and action."

I wholeheartedly agree that this should never have happened. It should never happen ever. It's absolutely disgusting.

What I want to know is why did it happen? Why did these girls ever think this would be okay to do?

I am glad the city denounced the actions, and that the superintendent has committed to making sure folks feel included in schools. It is important that we all show this neighbor our support at this time.

But we also need to make sure, as parents, we are doing our part to make sure our kids know just how wrong these actions were. It's definitely helpful that our schools and community to back and support us-- but ultimately, it is our job to help our kids know right from wrong...correct?

Yes, our kids are going to screw up and we're not always going to do a perfect job parenting, but we have to keep trying and in cases like this, double and triple our efforts. We have to model how to treat one another as much as we do explain why actions like this are deplorable.

I grew up the eldest of four kids being raised by a single mom. I am a single mom to four of my own kids now. I get what a struggle that parenting can be.

Growing up, my siblings and I pulled the usual adolescent antics. But when it came down to brass tacks, there were some things my mom made sure we understood, without question. One of those things was that people, no matter who they are or where they are from, deserve to be treated with respect.

She had traveled the world as a stewardess and had even had three of us in a foreign country. She had spent many years outside of the country she considered home, a probably because of this, had a soft spot for folks who felt out of place and were far from home themselves. She made sure we were aware of what a difficult situation that could be for someone--and how kindness and compassion were part of a universal language.

The other thing my mother made abundantly clear was that we knew that she would not tolerate us ever being awful humans to anyone. Had we ever dared to be bullies or harm someone or break a law....none of us ever wanted to find out what was at the end of that sentence.

She may have stood 5 feet tall and weighed a hundred pounds soaking wet--that woman was the definition of tiny but mighty--but we had both respect for her and fear of her--not of her physically coming after us, rather fear in disappointing her.

Apparently, these kids knew neither the fear of disappointing their parents nor the importance of respecting people. They need to learn both of those things, but I hope it's not at the expense of their future.

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