Commentary – The thing that turns a reporter’s stomach

Chris Clegg
There are many youth in each community who do plenty of good with little or no recognition. From volunteering during community events to picking garbage, parents and teachers at local schools try to instill in youth the importance of contributing to the community.

There are many success stories. Many are reported on the pages of these newspapers, but quickly forgotten. But put in a youth court report, and watch the fur fly!

For example, High Prairie’s “Men of Knowledge” is in full session at A&W, and what an old friend of mine referred to as the “Stitch and Bitch Club” has the tongues of its members waggling.

The rest of the public takes it in stride, knowing full well the value of each. They must also realize that everyone claims, or is a member of, the “Men of Knowledge” or “Stitch and Bitch” fraternity somewhere.

It is interesting to observe each club’s thirst for knowledge. Or better yet, a little gossip. Hey, if you don’t know a rumour by 7 a.m., start one!

Myself, included, I enjoy the early morning B.S. session. It’s a great way to start a day. Meet a few friends, enjoy a few laughs, and prepare to take on the day.

But I digress.

One of the favourite topics is youth. Every one of the old geezers around the table will tell you that years ago youth were better mannered, worked harder, and became more productive members of society.

“Our grandparents said the same thing about us,” said the late Denis Peyre.

He was right. Every generation seems to want to dump on the next generation. How we survived to this point in the eyes of our grandparents is a mystery of epic proportions.

It isn’t that many youth are not contributing. The frustrating thing about the attitude of some youth today is the way they want to play both fields.

“Treat us like adults,” yell teenage boys.

That is, until it comes time to appear in youth court and hide behind the cloak of the Youth Criminal Justice Act. I have reported on several youth over the years who have excelled in local sports. We’ve done our duty and reported their accomplishments.

Too many times, however, I’ve seen the same youth in youth court pleading guilty to criminal charges ranging from theft, drug possession and/or trafficking, mischief, liquor offences and bullying. Even murder! I cannot tell you who they are. As a society, we have deemed to give them a break.

I find myself in the minority because I believe that the names of youth should not be published.

However, I’d like to draw the line. A repeat youth offender’s name should be published.

The Youth Criminal Justice Act was partly designed to protect youth from being labeled as criminals for petty crimes. I believe everyone is entitled to a break but thumb your nose at the justice system as a repeat offender and all bets should be off.

How much is too much before the public should be warned that some rotten little hoodlum is roaming the streets looking for his next victim?

The public is not sick and tired of youth crime. They are sick and tired of youth who want to be treated like adults one day, then hide the next under the opportunity afforded them by our government.

All kidding aside, that’s what turns this reporter’s stomach.

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