Niagara Gazette

Opinion

September 30, 2012

CITY DESK: These kids, our kids

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette — If we're not careful, they'll all soon be getting ink on the pages of our police blotter.

It's clear to me more can and should be done.

Our school district just got approved for a $67 million capital improvement project.

What good are new science labs if the students can sneak out the doors when no one's looking? Why have surveillance cameras in a school building if no one's watching them?

Again, I'm not blaming the district for our child's behavior, I'm just offering an example of how the system can be strengthened overall.

Real change comes down to two things: Commitment and funding. The first one should be a snap. The second a priority.

My fiance and I have spoken at length to probation officers, police officers, juvenile detectives, social workers, teachers and school administrators — all the people working on the front lines of the city's juvenile system.

They are working hard, earning their money and have demonstrated to us that they genuinely do care about our kids.

They have also told us the same thing time and again: They can only do so much with what they have and need more and better resources.

Having witnessed firsthand how hard these people are working, I have come to appreciate how desperately they need reinforcements — more power to merit out effective punishments, more personnel to keep eyes on unlocked doors and tabs on wayward kids, more alternative programs troubled teens and more recreational facilities and offerings to keep kids busy and off the streets.

There's no easy fix here. It's a complex problem, requiring a lot of work.

Now is the time to renew our commitment.

They may not appreciate it now, but I'm sure in time these kids — our kids — will thank us for it.

Mark Scheer is the city editor at the Niagara Gazette. Contact him at 282-2311, ext. 2250

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