Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Deviant Norms

By Ruth Wilkins
Deviance is behavior that is recognized as violating expected rules and norms, while the definition of a norm is specific cultural expectations for how to act in a given situation. But what happens when a somewhat deviant act becomes a social norm. Does it make the act fairly tolerable?
When I was a kid there was always an expected behavior of caution. For instance some of the better known examples are don’t run with scissors, look both ways before crossing the street, and don’t smoke in bed. And without explanation I’m sure most of us can reasonably guess the significance of these basic rules.
But can someone please tell me why so many people around Philadelphia load and unload their children from the street? I see it in different neighborhoods, with different races, among different age groups and at all times of the day. There is an element of danger with this poor choice of accepted behavior. I have an idea why people act so thoughtlessly. I think essentially it’s because we are lazy and we are in such a rush that it is easier to pack our children in our cars on the same side as we get in.
Here is a picture of a young lady loading her child from the street, and I’m sure she is vaguely aware of the consequences:

Although you would think most people would know the importance of protecting their children, they don’t acknowledge the significance of the consequences from this behavior.  I have found that taxi cabs are more thoughtful at providing safety rules for their patrons than some parents for their children. Do you know the proper way to exit a cab is on the sidewalk side of the cab (it’s usually posted in the cab). The most obvious of reasons is for the safety of the person taking the taxi. Now this posted blog is not about taxicab etiquette. But give this some thought, if a group of people we have little respect for can have patrons practice something as logical as exiting a cab from the sidewalk side then…
Why don’t people apply this fundamental rule to loading and unloading their children? How we teach our children good behavior is largely based on how we treat them. If we treat them as though it is ok to act irresponsibly at such a basic level we have a long road ahead of us and them.

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