(This column was published in the North Shore News on Aug. 29, 2001)

 

Lack of consequences the real youth crime

By Leo Knight

The problem of youth crime affects all our neighbourhoods and is, perhaps, more perplexing today than in days of yore when you and I were in our adolescent years.

 

The subject came up at a family dinner when my niece showed me an article she had written on the subject for her local paper. She made two salient points in her analysis. The first dealt with how kids today are bombarded with violent images and stories from various media such as TV, movies, computer games and the Internet.

 

The second dealt with the problems arising from poor role models and bad or inappropriate parenting. While both of these points are interesting, the single most significant thing she stated dealt with the concept of the lack of consequences received for actions taken.

 

An interesting point and, I might add, a drum that I have been beating on in this space for a number of years.

 

She used in the discussion an example of several of her peers who had tossed a Molotov cocktail into the computer lab of her school causing thousands of dollars of damage and closing the lab for several months.

 

The arsonists, all but one were young offenders, despite previous convictions, received varying terms of probation. The eldest, the only adult, did get a minor jail sentence. He is currently back in the hoosegow for another offence, but again, only a minor sentence.

 

In looking at that one individual, it would seem that Jessica, my niece, was right about the poor role model. His dad is an alcoholic in denial and expands his denial to his son's behaviour. "Oh no, my son wouldn't do that, it's the RCMP who are picking on him."

 

The kid has been in and out of trouble for years. Everything from being expelled from his school to shooting a gun indiscriminately from his bedroom window. Yet, in his father's eyes, he can do no wrong.

 

What, I suppose, really disturbs is the admission by Jessica, a sweet 17-year-old girl who'd melt the heart of the hardest man, that drugs of any kind are readily available in her neighbourhood. Ecstasy, cocaine, crack and heroin are as easily attainable in the school yard as the pot or hash of our youth.

 

The real problem was identified by that same sweet girl. The same problem that seems to have mystified the Justice Minister, Anne McLellan, the Solicitor General, Lawrence McAulay, (yes, the same idiot who proudly announced last week in Edmonton that police have got a handle on organized crime). The problem is not more complicated than the perpetrators of the crime that affect every one of us do not see any consequences for their actions.

 

This is not rocket science. A 17-year-old girl, without the inherent life experience of the ministers of the Crown or the judges of the superior courts, in this country can look at the issue and readily see the problem.

 

So, can anyone explain what the hell is wrong with those in charge of this system in disarray?

 

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