Over the past number of weeks, the issue of youth crime has come to the forefront of controversy here in Rimbey.
It began in the weekly crime report earlier this month when Cst. Daniel Kenny, to paraphrase, made the assertion that the RCMP had much more important things to do than be babysitters or surrogate mothers to a number of these young offenders, as opposed to their parents.
Subsequently, a number of letters were submitted to and published by this newspaper contradicting the claims made by Cst. Kenny.
Whether you agree or disagree with Cst. Kenny’s assessment of the situation, or whether you agree or disagree with the letters that followed, no matter how you slice it or no matter how you dice it, there are a number of certainties that should be thrown into the mix when discussing the issue of youth crime here in Rimbey.
First and foremost, all one has to do is turn back a few pages to the front page of today’s edition to see that yes, the RCMP do indeed have much bigger issues to worry about than kids running wild at all hours of the night while their parents seem oblivious to what they’re up to.
In fact, in many of the cases such as those on Page 1, the RCMP are dealing with life and death situations and most certainly cannot and will not drop everything and come running because somebody can’t or won’t control or discipline their kid.
As for actually blaming the police for the antics of their kids or for not intervening on the parent’s behalf, again, see Page 1. After all, the RCMP don’t make the rules in this country, their role is to enforce those rules so any blame put on them is highly unjustified.
On the surface, most voters in this area should be tickled pink that the Conservatives are still calling the shots. After all, the leader said during the recent election campaign that he was going to pull off the sweater-vest, roll up his sleeves and get tough on youth crime, but that was only on the surface.
When you consider that according to the polls in the recent federal election, the Conservatives were poised to win a majority government until the prime minister – in his zeal for absolute power, jumped the gun on two key issues in Quebec – one being getting tough on youth crime, voters there turned on him, his popularity plummeted and we’re back to Square One.
Why exactly the folks over in Quebec are so fervently opposed to cracking down on young offenders is a matter for another day, but you can bet the farm that no federal government, be it this one or another other, will be making that mistake again, especially if it means losing a majority.
So after spending the batter part of $300 million on an election that got us pretty-well nowhere, both parents and the police still have little recourse when it comes to dealing with youth committing criminal acts.
Another certainty that needs to be touched on is if and when this or any other government finally begins to address the issue, it most certainly wont be in a similar fashion that Malaysia and a number of other Asian countries deal with it.
Those of us who are a little longer in the tooth than the young hooligans that are causing the problems locally, may well remember the name Michael P. Fay.
For those who don’t, Fay, an 18 year-old American thought, as most Americans do, that he was somehow immune from the laws of other countries because…well, he was an American and somehow, the laws of other countries don’t apply to them.
Wrong, said the high court in Malaysia and even after a number of pleas from then-President Bill Clinton, the punishment for his crimes – that being theft and vandalism, was dolled out in the form of the cane and on May 5, 1994, Fay was lashed on the rear-end four times after the government reduced the sentence from six lashes.
In light of the fact that Malaysia has one of the lowest youth crime rates in the world, many may think a return to corporal law might not be such a bad idea after all, but you can bet the farm it won’t happen here, especially when you consider Quebec’s opposition to the issue.
So if parents cannot turn to the government for help, blaming the RCMP seems to be their only option.
But there is one more.
How about trying the truth for a change?
What about this for a solution: rather than going to court to ‘defend’ little Johnny or Jane who just happen to be facing a number of charges that, if they were a few years older, would be looking at some considerable jail time, why not simply tell the judge the truth for a change?
If you’ve already resigned yourself to the fact that your kid is out of control and after repeated attempts of disciplining them yourself to no avail, maybe it’s time to turn them over to people who can and will discipline them for you.
After all, for the vast majority of us, a little old school, ‘tough love’ was an everyday occurrence back in the day, so why, all of a sudden, are little Johnny and Jane immune from the same treatment?
Rather than standing up in court and using the same old line, ‘my kid’s not bad, he or she just does bad things’, why not take a more pro-active approach, which brings us to another certainty.
You can be assured that if you tell the judge that you are incapable of controlling your kid, he’ll find someone who is. And if little Johnny or Jane are sent to an ultra-strict, ultra-disciplined group home or some such other facility, then all the better.
Isn’t that the whole idea in the first place?
If while ‘inside’ they find it unbearably horrible to be away from their friends and family, maybe the next time they’ll think twice about stealing vehicles or breaking into a business or throwing rocks through windows or spray-painting graffiti on churches and schools.
However you want to deal with it is up to you, but one thing’s for sure: the RCMP have much more serious things to deal with than being a babysitter or a surrogate mother for somebody else’s kid.