Monday, July 31, 2006

DC Still Clueless

The WaPo reports that DC residents don't think much of the actions taken as part of the recent "crime emergency" declared by DC Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey. Not surprising. The report includes that back in October 2005, two teenagers shot and dumped on Suitland Parkway became the 11th and 12th "young" homicide victims in 13 days, prompting the original declaration. This state of emergency was reiterated and highly publicized after 14 killings in 14 days. Such short durations are not statistically significant, so we can't really say this constitutes an 9% increase in the crime rate, but it's still an increase, at least anecdotally.

The latest action? Put 16-year-olds and their younger compatriots off the streets by 10PM, starting this writing, just about an hour away. Oh yeah, add surveillance cameras and police overtime. It should reduce the number of juvenile deaths, right? Well, maybe...

And what's the excuse the WaPo reports for why juvenile arrests went from 6% in 2005 to 8% in 2006? Boredom.

Bite me.

Boredom isn't the reason; it's the excuse. The real problem is that it has become unfashionable to hold people, regardless of age, accountable for their own actions. When kids are bored, they can choose how to entertain themselves. Stealing cars isn't the only option. Roving neighborhoods in gangs and terrorizing residents isn't either. And, as Clinton proved so wonderfully, neither is turning lights on basketball courts at midnight.

So, whose job is it to hold these kids accountable? Parents. Failing that, schools. Failing that, police.

I will grant you that the DC government education system has failed these kids. That comes back to the parents, also. It's almost impossible for students to hold the education system accountable. The student is powerless in that environment with their grades held hostage should they choose to stand up to a miserable teacher. That is the parents' job. But the parents are either missing in action or clueless. Perhaps they've abandoned their kids. Perhaps the single remaining parent is swamped just keeping food on the table and something akin to a roof overhead. Perhaps they never had a parent stand up for them and don't know it's their job.
Doesn't matter. It's still the parents' job.

Don't get me wrong - the schools need to be responsive and provide quality education. It's not a matter of money, regardless of what the NEA would have you believe. Sure, well-funded education programs have options not available to small budget schools. But this is DC! The civics, history, nature, science, and math centers of the nation are within a Metro ride. It takes planning on the part of the school to bring in these experts or to go to where they are, but it's not expensive. With proper motivation, there is no reason why these kids, instead of being told they can't leave their homes after 10PM, couldn't instead have to be encouraged to go do something besides study, work, or even teach/tutor for a while.

This rant isn't done, but I am. Start ripping it apart and let's see if we can actually find something that might work better than what isn't working now.

Comments? Anyone?


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