Help our young people

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 26, 2002

Andalusia is luckier than many towns - there are some things for our youth to do, from a movie theater and a bowling alley, a state-of-the-art sports complex, to activities with 4-H and many church-affiliated youth groups. And yet, the teens seem to be at loose ends on weekends. Not many can afford to play game after game at the bowling alley, or see every movie that is offered. They hang out at the fast food places to visit with working friends, or they park near on the square to see who is "cruising."

There have been murmured complaints that the teens are often pulled over by law enforcement and our feelings are mixed. We understand their anger, if they feel they are being harassed. But we also understand the officers, who, in the long run, are working for these very teens by attempting to eradicate drugs from their community.

If the teens are watched over too closely, they may well go underground, and even those who would never conceive of breaking the laws will be out of sight - and out of protective reach.

For those

– adults or teens - who do choose to break the law, their target has entered their territory - away from the eyes of parents and police, and ripe for easy picking.

If the teens are not watched closely enough, the predators will come out of the shadows after them and claim these public places for their own.

Raising children, especially in these precarious times, is a very tricky balancing act that calls for communication and cooperation between the parents, the police, and the children themselves.

We suggest the formation of a youth council, with representatives from the teenagers, their parents, the police, educators, and possibly clergy and business owners, to open those lines of communications. If these groups can meet on equal ground, without defensiveness or suspicion, perhaps alternatives can be developed by all parties involved - alternatives that would offer the youth legal, enjoyable and safe things to do, and offer their parents and police peace of mind.