Niagara Gazette

Columns

September 30, 2012

CITY DESK: These kids, our kids

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette — Well, here we are again.

I offer another reminder that these kids — our kids — are still engaging in some pretty dangerous behaviors — sex, drugs, criminal activity.

The latest craze is getting tattoos from some guy who is running an underground shop out of a house somewhere in the city.

Under state law, no one under 18 can get a tattoo, with or without parental consent.

In Niagara Falls, I'm finding, such laws do not always apply.

This sort of behavior might be expected from older teens — 16- or 17-year-olds maybe. These kids are middle schoolers and high school freshman.

This is also the kind of stuff that leads to long-term consequences — teenage pregnancy, drug addiction, prison, disease.

It's horrifying.

Our child is responsible for her own actions, of course. It's not society's fault she's in the position she is in. We, as parents, have a responsibility to try to keep her on the right path.

That's why back in May we sought help from the Niagara County Probation Department's PINS diversion program. They connected us with a great group of in-home counselors from Catholic Charities who provide weekly services as part of a program called Multi-Systemic Therapy. We are in regular contact with teachers and school administrators and attend sessions with a private counselor each month.

It's not working, not yet anyway. But, we know she's worth it and are committed to keep trying.

The same can't be said for the parents of all these kids.

Some of them, like the one scheduled for the family court date, receive little if any parental supervision. They do not find their way to school every day and, in some cases, are too poorly behaved to be able to attend traditional classes. As a result, they are getting lost in the cracks in the system and are having a corrupting influence on others their age.

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