“Why are your children wandering the streets at 1:30 in the morning on a school night?” asks contributor

ear Editor;
I feel compelled to write this letter to once again bring to the attention of the residents of Rimbey, some of the situations that are taking place in town. I have recently had another experience that many have endured, and I wonder if there is some reason that incidents like these continue to take place in what we like to think of as our small town that offers a safe and healthy environment in which to reside, raise our children or retire.

Dear Editor;

I feel compelled to write this letter to once again bring to the attention of the residents of Rimbey, some of the situations that are taking place in town. I have recently had another experience that many have endured, and I wonder if there is some reason that incidents like these continue to take place in what we like to think of as our small town that offers a safe and healthy environment in which to reside, raise our children or retire.

I am writing in regards to the number of young people who feel they can run our streets, bullying not only other children, but also our elderly. One may ask why this continues to be a problem. Over the Easter holidays, my two granddaughters traveled to Rimbey to spend the holiday with family and friends. They arrived on Thursday, March 20 mid-afternoon only to be speaking with the RCMP by 10 p.m. because of a bullying situation. They had been in Rimbey for a matter of hours, when they were followed and confronted by a group of 10 to 12 other young people who proceeded to try and ‘beat up’ the youngest one. The following evening charges were formally laid against one of the girls involved, and she was released on conditions.

This is not the first time we have tried to address these incidents. We contacted you last year when the confrontations were occurring almost daily on our streets to see if someone might take steps to help stem this type of behaviour. I know of a number of families who were forced to choose to move away from our town because of occurrences like this one. There have been charges laid repeatedly in many of these cases over the past year, yet it continues because our Young Offenders Act makes it possible for them to behave this way, and there is only so much the police can do. Please note that the Town of Rimbey has bylaws that are applicable to noise violations, but none that address youth crimes.

You may think that, “kids will be kids”, but this is not the case here. Some of the children in our community are hiding from these bullies, avoiding them at all costs. Your child may take a different way to school every single morning, hoping that they will not encounter the group of teens waiting for them. Threats are being made verbally, physically and through both cell phone and e-mail messages. Often the one being bullied is stalked when they go to the store, to the skateboard park or to a friend’s house. And the sad part is they won’t tell anyone that this is happening to them fearing that it will worsen the situation.

I would also like to point out that there have been a number of incidents involving our elderly. One such occasion that was shared with me involved a lady in her 70s who was being followed by a group of young people, who were taunting and intimidating her with comments they made. She became scared and tried to hurry to her home seeking safety behind her locked door, only to take a fall – injuring her knees and hands. She is living with the fear that these teens may return now that they know where she lives and that she lives alone. I am appalled that this is happening here in Rimbey, and no one seems to care. Again, the elderly won’t tell anyone for fear of reprisal.

My question to the parents of these teens is why are your children wondering the streets at 1:30 in the morning on a school night? Do you really know what your child is doing when they are away from your home, or on your computer or texting on their cell phone? Why, after repeated phone calls from the police, charges laid, court appearances and so on, are your children still behaving this way? Where has the precious virtue called respect gone?

So my question to Town Council – are you willing to address this problem and seriously look at finding a resolution? Will you create bylaws pertaining to the problem of youth crime within our town? Isn’t the safety of our citizens more important than the cost of hiring a bylaw officer who would be responsible for enforcing reasonable penalties on these young offenders? I understand that there are people who will, again, pass this off as, “no big deal”, but I assure you that it’s only a matter of time before the big city problems began to arrive and we must deal with these problems as they arise.

I am sure that the RCMP officers would welcome any assistance that the Town has to offer, as at this point in time, it seems to be a frustrating uphill battle dealing with these young people.

It is only a portion of our young people behaving badly, and it troubles me greatly to say that they seem to carry the power. They have taken from some of our most precious citizens the joy of evening walks, of skipping off the school on a spring morning, or perhaps just the freedom to feel safe as a resident of Rimbey.

Sincerely,

Name withheld

by request