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Neighbor to Neighbor: Kids lose innocence much too early today

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Shopping along Merrick Boulevard is always an interesting experience for me. The other day, I hadn’t even gone the distance of two stores when I met a lady I hadn’t seen for several weeks. After meeting each other, we began exchanging news of friends and neighbors. She asked me if I had seen our mutual friend, Viola. I assured her I had and, in fact, had told Viola how favorably impressed I was with her very sweet grandchildren. We agreed about that and wished that all children would have the sweetness and innocence that we learned, years ago, was a normal part of youth.

But sadly she reported that her own young grandson had been threatened with a screwdriver by a grade-school classmate. That student was expelled, but I suspect her grandson may still have some qualms about trusting his peers.

Society seems to be racing toward some kind of disaster. Everything is speed. The young can’t wait to do everything adults can do. Many, who began the downward spiral years ago, now find that they can’t cope with their inadequate education, nor can they cope with children they acquired somewhere along the way. They throw up their hands and tell us it is now a community problem. They say the schools are inadequate, the libraries don’t keep their young out of trouble until they get home from work, the police don’t have enough positive programs, and their neighbors aren’t helpful enough either. These parents say they have tried their best, but when their own children start threatening them, they are afraid.

Luckily, out-of-control young people are not the norm. But unfortunately, some of them are leaders who may contaminate their peers. One of the greatest tools adults can use to teach the young, is setting a good example. The second greatest tool is discipline. Any adult who doesn’t tell a child when he or she is doing something wrong is, in my opinion, helping to pave the way for that young person to make the same mistake again - or something worse.

A little further along that Merrick Boulevard area, I met a neighbor from another block. He didn’t wait to exchange greetings but began by reiterating complaints we had both heard too many times at public meetings. “What is the matter with some of our neighbors?” he asked me. “Don’t they ever go to meetings or read the newspapers to find out what’s going on?” Hardly without taking a breath, he recited a litany of oft-stated complaints: drivers who speed, fail to stop at stop signs, pass red lights, drive the wrong way on one-way streets, throw things out of their vehicles, and double or triple-park and then scream and curse when the cops write them up.

Last weekend I had to call the police to shut down a party that was so loud it made my windows rattle - even when they were closed. I guess the police did come because about half an hour after I phoned, the music stopped. About 30 minutes later it was on again full force. Some people just don’t care about anyone else.

That is a very common complaint, not only expressed to me, as a community activist but also to the police. Party debris is another thing. Sometimes after a big party, we hear about and sometimes find, beer or liquor bottles, soda cans, glasses paper plate, food remnants, balloons, and even ashtray dumpings left as reminders why rest was lost.

We wonder, when we see that, how many accidents happened on the way home. When parties are discussed at Precinct Council and other community meetings, we are told noise complaints are deemed valid, no matter what time of day or night when the sound exceeds a specific decibel level. The officers from Precinct 105 respond to complaints and ask the party givers to lower the volume. If later response is necessary, the police can issue summons, remove the speaker wires, or confiscate the speakers themselves. It should be noted...and we hope everyone remembers this...Environmental Control Board summonses for excessive noise can cost hundreds of dollars.

Reach columnist Barbara Morris by e-mail at timesledger@aol.com or call 229300, Ext. 139.

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