Monday, June 25, 2007

Vandals Beware!

This article was published in June 2007 (Issue # 70 Volume 10) of “The New Wave” which is a publication of The Hub in St. John’s, Newfoundland. I’m glad I am not the only adult who thinks kids these days are “getting away with murder”.

Make'em pay so it hurts. That's what I say. Congratulations to the City of Mount Pearl in your efforts to rid us of vandalism. And, yes it's the teenagers and younger of us that I'm pointing my finger at, you are the guilty party. Every time I see a once beautiful information or history billboard defrayed with gutter words and nasty phrases, I want to puke. Whenever I see a broken beer bottle in a playground I want to scream. But most of all every time I see it, I know you did it. I don't know why, I wish I did, maybe then and only then will it end.

Seems as if Mount Pearl has had enough; they are hoping to do something about it. When I spoke with Councilor Ed Grant he compared his proposal to the City of Calgary. In Calgary, he told me, parents are fined up to $5,000 if their child is found responsible for any destruction of property. Then he reminded me that the city of Calgary is one of the cleanest cites in Canada. So now, the City of Mount Pearl intends to take steps to be given the authority to charge the parents for the crime of their child.

Councilor Ed Grants explains, "The Council's discussion stems from a recommendation the City is putting forward at the annual NLFM convention advocating improvements to the Young Offenders Act. The ultimate responsibility is Federal but we hope the convention will adopt our recommendations. One part does speak to parent/guardian responsibilities. We advocate that the offender be made more responsible for his/her actions and that the cost burden not be borne solely by the victim. I commented that if the offender is caught and convicted he/she be made responsible or if due to age/ financial circumstance, etc. this is not realistic that the parents/ guardians bear some liability. This may have the effect of reducing incidents by seeing more adult control. I realize there may be nuances to various situations but the principle is sound. I expect most parents already accept responsibility when confronted and this would simply better enforce the liability issue. Often the victims are in no better financial shape than the offender/ offender's family and are often seniors and women. Finally, I feel this principle along with significant fines might go a long way to reducing crimes like graffiti, senseless vandalism and similar activities that affect the quality of people's lives. While some of these issues might not appear to be major in the big scheme of things they are very important and disturbing to the various victims".

Yep, hit them where it hurts, in the pocket book. That's what I say. A dollar figure hasn't been decided yet, but Mr. Grant gave me a figure that I think is to low. They are just too nice; no wonder everybody wants to live in Mount Pearl. Go higher I say, add another zero! That otta hurt!

When we were kids, if any one of us, no matter who's kid we were , if any of us ever broke a neighbor's window, we'd be paying for the rest of our sorry young lives. The chores would double and the allowance would disappear. We'd live a life of torture for at least a month. No television, no dessert, no nothing!! But, we learned for it. We didn't repeat our sinful ways for too long. We grew up and became responsible adults. What about the kids today. They screw up and nobody notices until, sometimes, it's too late. You kids out there, you are our future. Didn't anybody tell you that? If not or if were napping at the time, I'm telling you again. You are our future, so stop screwing up. If you feel the need to try and prove how tough you are, or if by slashing tires or writing graffiti all over the place, or maybe sneaking off into the woods with beer on your back, is your way of being cool, it's not working. What would work much better would be for you to capture all that energy and transplant it to where it will pay dividends. Allow me to explain; if you are a graffiti culprit, take art lessons. Maybe you are the next best artist that ever put a brush to canvas, but you'll never know if you don't try. If it's beer in the back pack type you are, you should take your empties home with you. Oh yea, that's evidence!! If your parents see empty beer bottles, they'll get suspicious. Very astute of you. At the very least then, bring them to a recycling depot. Didn't you know you get money for empties? Da!! Breaking them and leaving dangerous broken glass in our beautiful forests can hurt an innocent little furry creature, or worse, scar a young child. For my money, I don't believe you even think when you do the things you do, you're not bad people, and you are victims of the times. I feel sorry for you. I see you guys out in the worst Newfoundland weather, freezing your butts off and sharing a cigarette. You'd rather be there than sitting in the comfort of your own home………………..Something is wrong with that picture. And I now point my finger at us the parents. We are as guilty as we are stupid. We are so busy working, gambling, drinking, or whatever other excuse crops up, that we are losing our children. Let's give ourselves a shake here. It's time to make things right. In the end we are all guilty to some degree.

a) Absent or weak parents, b) disinterested teachers who allow the child to fall through the cracks, c) television for promoting violence, d) the justice system for going easy on young offenders, and last but far from least you, the child, for taking the most traveled road; you know who you are, you follow the gang rather than being an individual who thinks for him/herself; you don't give it your best, because of that, you are failing in school; or perhaps you're suffering from a lousy home life so you take your anger out on in-animate objects or kids who are weaker than you.

Come-on kids, lets break the prototype. Ask yourselves, "Where would I like to be in ten years from now?" Then go for it.

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