Thursday, August 15, 2013

Honor Thy Neighbor

Or neighborhood school. And your town.

I don't know what the hell is going on over here in Glen Rock. I like to call it the Mayberry of Bergen County. And it usually is just that. It's quaint, seems small, even with a population of around eleven thousand and nothing really happens here. Sure, we have drug busts left and right of people passing through and the random thefts of personal property from unlocked cars. Hi, just lock your cars. But I'm really disturbed at the vandalism at the elementary schools. It's disgusting.

My son doesn't go to elementary school yet but we've walked by the school and seen the cool new equipment that has been put up recently. We've played basketball on the new hoops and everything was looking really great.

Then- graffiti, broken fences, and other vandalism has occurred over a short period of time. Hey- I get it- I was a teenager. We hung out on the school playgrounds. But we never trashed them. For what? So little kids can't play? Granted, our playgrounds weren't made of safe, light, resin/plastic materials. We would've had a hard time trashing heavy metal monkey bars and the like.

And no, our parents weren't around 24/7 but I still want to know- where are the parents? Are we talking to our kids about respecting other people's property? Are we doing enough to teach them right and wrong? I also want to know if kids have a little fear of their parents anymore? Because I don't think that's such a bad thing. Fear doesn't have to mean fear of getting knocked into next week. It could simply mean fear of disappointing you. Fear of SOME kind of punishment or repercussion. Maybe losing the lifeline of their iPhone? Their computer? SOMETHING.

I'm really thinking this behavior is all part of the bigger problem of parents wanting to be their child's friend more than do the hard stuff- which is to hold them accountable for bad behavior. I'm not a fan of the whole hippie-dippy trying to reason with them or talk about their feelings of why they're behavior is atrocious- mean-spirited, violent, rude, irresponsible, disrespectful, etc. How about just some clear expectations and real follow-through on consequences? Kids do stuff like trash a school-yard for a few reasons. They do it because they can, they do it for attention, to look cool, because they're taking out some kind of aggression....OR, they're just inherently little assholes.

I don't know why this is happening at all of the elementary schools in town. I don't know if it's that it's unexpected, that no one is adequately patrolling these areas, or what. What I do know is that we need better lighting and better cameras, more patrolling, and maybe we need some kind of old-school Neighborhood Watch (without guns- I'm not talking George Zimmerman kind of Neighborhood Watch), where people take turns, in teams of two, patrolling the areas. I walk at night all the time and I walk past two of the four elementary schools. Sign me up.

I'm also not against shaming any perpetrators that are caught. I feel like in a small town like this, the best way to get the behavior to stop is to embarrass them. Or their parents. Is that too much? No, I don't think so. I don't feel bad doing it. If you have the balls to deface and ruin other people's property and think it's funny, then you should have your identity plastered all over the place so people know exactly what kind of character you have. Harsh? Not to me. If it was my kid, I'd be mortified. I'd WANT his face recognized as the person who did something so stupid, careless, and disrespectful. He'd have to learn a lesson. Lessons that I think have become sorely lacking in our new touchy-feely version of parenting.

I've been told by tweens and teens in town who it "probably" is- no one has definite IDs, video, or photos. Just speculation. I asked what the story is with the parents and got the same thing every time- "Oh, their parents don't care what they do....they can do whatever they want. They stay out until whenever they want." Of course that's just hearsay, but is that what you want said about you as a parent? I know I don't.

I went by the school last night to see the damage myself and take some photos. Not only was there damage but there were beers in the garbage there. This isn't a hidden playground. Anyone walking or driving by could see anything going on in there. When I was in high school, you went deep in a hidden area to drink or smoke. This is just totally brazen and I have to question how no one has been caught there....

Chair seat in park

Ripped fence #2

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