We all know that juvenile crime is going up, up, up, while respect for law and order, Mom and apple pie is going down, down, down. We can’t deny it anymore with news articles finally admitting what has been obvious for some time. While watching the deterioration of our youths, you can’t help asking “Why?”, a question that wasn’t welcome in the sixties, as I recall! I asked anyway, and asked, and asked.

The answers I got! What a revelation! What a nightmare! The most frequent answers were:

"I won’t get caught!" So true, with the huge police workload and budget, or lack thereof.

"They won’t do anything to me". Our system has proved this time and time again.

"Who cares?" or "So what?" See any ostriches on your street?

"I don’t got money, don’t got no job." And why not? We don’t want to get into this now.

And the winner is (insert drum roll here): "I dunno!"

Who taught them their actions were acceptable? Who said it was okay for a pre-teen to tell their parents “F--- you” and slam the door on the way out to meet their buddies at midnight on a school night? What were the parents too busy doing when their toddler first showed signs of serious defiance? Did they think someone else would teach them? The schools? The law? The prisons? So what’s a body to do? Pull the curtains closed, install window bars, move to the country? Hah! Tried and tested - doesn’t work. It might give you a year or two at best.

One day you could come home to violent graffiti throughout your home, your grandparent’s irreplaceable jewelry gone forever and your sense of security destroyed, not to mention what it does to your children’s piece of mind. What do you do then? What if it was your child that did the crime? What should you have done years ago? This entire subject can be discussed over coffee and debated until crime becomes socially acceptable. The scary fact is that is IS becoming more acceptable, if for no other reason, something we just can't prevent any longer. Meanwhile, the existing situation just isn’t working. Period.

Ever noticed how everyone is willing to get involved only after an issue reaches the crucial stage? How about getting involved yourself? How about becoming aware of what is going on, in and outside your home? Spend some quality time with your children, or someone else’s children. Teach them respect. Teach them the Ten Commandments, with or without accompanying religion. Set limits and then enforce them. Get your child in a kid's program. If you can’t find room in a group, start one. Volunteer! What a reaction that word causes!

I wanted to know why more people didn’t volunteer. Here comes that “Why?” again. So, I asked, and asked, and asked. Another not so surprising list: “I wouldn’t know where to volunteer”, “I wouldn’t know what to do”, “I don’t have anything to offer”, and, of course, the biggie, “I don’t have time.”

Make time! What on God’s green earth is more important than your children? It doesn’t matter if your child is Beaver Cleaver or Charles Manson, get involved! Share how you raised Beaver, get help on handling Charlie before it’s too late, or if Charlie is already in prison, share what not to do! Get out there anyway!

Join Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, ReDirect, Child Advocates, Family Resource, KKIS, At Risk, Toughlove, Community Action Network, the list goes on and on. Learn what you can do to help yourself, and others before it gets worse!

Yes, you can spare one hour a week!

Written by Sharry Anne Stevens 1998, all right reserved

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