On the Westside of L.A, usually it's celebrities who provide the bad role models for our families. But Francesco Schettino, captain of the grounded cruise ship Costa Concordia, pushed the athletes and all the Kardashians off the Internet homepages and became the poster boy for bad behavior. Another eight bodies have been recovered in the past few days, bringing the presumed death toll to 32. As criminal proceedings against Schettino continue, are there lessons from Schettino's actions we can take away?
1. Consider the consequences of your behavior. For purely personal reasons, Schettino purposefully diverted his ship from its predetermined route, bringing it closer to the island of Gigilo where it hit rocks and later keeled over on its side. Encourage your teens, who may be likely to engage in actions that are risky, to use their good judgment to think through potential outcomes ahead of time and weigh the risks against the rewards. They may be less dramatic than those Schettino faces, yet important to their future.
2. Recognize real danger and act to protect from it. The captain and crew first denied the actual emergency, telling passengers only that the ship's power was out. The message to abandon ship came only after the Concordia had capsized, making many of the lifeboats inaccessible. While you don't want to be overly tense and vigilant in all situations, prepare to guard your safety when a threat is, in fact, imminent.
3. Take responsibility for your actions. Schettino defied the accepted maritime standard of conduct: when it is necessary to abandon ship, the captain accepts his position of leadership and is the last one to leave. He ignored his duty to evacuate all of the passengers before getting into a lifeboat himself. When your kids are faced with an ethical choice, help them to rely on inner strength to do what is right so they won't have regrets later.
4. Don't lie. When asked by the owner of the cruise line about the situation, Schettino did not at first tell them about the severe damage the rocks had made in the ship. He withheld key parts of the whole story in an attempt to shield himself. As a result, the owners were not able to arrange for adequate rescue services immediately after the disaster. If you are tempted to shade facts, remember that you will respect a decision to tell the truth.
Most of us recognize that often we can learn more from failure than success. How we respond to disappointments can make us more resilient. And sometimes we can learn as much from negative role models as from the positive ones we emulate. So use Schettino's errors in judgment and bad behavior as a staring point for discussions around your own kitchen table.