Wednesday, November 2, 2011

More Opposition to the Montgomery County Curfew Proposal // Huffington Post & Youths Want Positive Solutions

UPDATE: It seems that the County Council members are clarifying that they are not adopting the Executive's punitive approach. A reader points out that just over a week ago, the County Council unanimously passed a resolution affirming their commitment to:
"support, fund and pursue public-private partnerships to  finance positive youth development programs as part of a comprehensive, interdisciplinary approach to meet the  County's youth needs, reduce crime and violence involving minors, and promote community safety."
The resolution was introduced by Councilmember Navarro and co-sponsored by the entire body. The "Background" notes accompanying the resolution also noted: 
  • During the last three fiscal  years, many programs that are part of  the [Positive Youth Development Initiative]  have been cut due to the global economic recession's impact on Montgomery County. 
  • The  County  Executive  has  expressed  concerns regarding  "increased  gang  activity, violence, and crime involving minors in the County." 
Alright young people, it is not often that politicians pass resolutions affirming their commitment to fund something in the future (especially nowadays). Go get your funding!

This week several new voices are speaking out against Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett's youth curfew proposal. We already mentioned the big news that the County's coalition of PTA's voted to issue a resolution against the curfew proposal. Now ordinary students themselves are asking for positive solutions, and even the Huffington Post is now writing about this silly policy proposal. Huffpo writer Peter Orvetti recently commented:
It's a funny thing: For all our politicians' talk of acting "for the children," they rarely give a thought to children's rights. But it's not a surprise. After all, kids can't vote....
It's safe to conclude that, yes, keeping young people inside at night keeps them from being the victims of crime. And if the city banned gays from going out after midnight, there'd be less gay-bashing; if women were locked down, there'd be fewer rapes.
But enough from the grownups. Back to hearing from the young people. Here is a particularly intelligent comment from a writer at the "My High School Journalism" website:
When did teens from Montgomery County become such a problem?

...In Baltimore, police in 2011 reported that 70% of the teens they take into custody for curfew violations were often trying to escape a dysfunctional family, a stressed household or homelessness, reports the Baltimore Sun. This fact proves most teens aren’t looking for trouble, or a way to cause some sort of disturbance; therefore, it is absurd to think that teens from that county would come to Montgomery County to cause trouble....

The goal should be to address the underlying issues that cause a 13-year-old to be on the street at 2 a.m., not merely to punish the youngsters....

"But unfortunately for teens, “passing a law is much cheaper....”

Teens should be protesting and petitioning to get this bill stopped because if Montgomery County wants to protect its citizens and create a safer area then they need to create a bill that resolves the problem, not one that simply subdues it. 

Lastly, check out the following video of a recent dialogue between young people from the Gandhi Brigade. They are simply seeking positive ways to address the roots of the supposed youth issues the curfew claims to address. I had the opportunity to meet the organization's Director when Maryland Juice went public at a panel earlier this month. Their mission is as follows: "Gandhi Brigade prepares young people to become powerful leaders. In collaboration with adult allies, young people create multimedia that engages and transforms our community. We prepare youth for this leadership role through the integration of spirituality, entrepreneurship, and community relationships."

Sadly, this positive element to the so-called "youth crime spree" in Montgomery County has been completely missing during this curfew discussion. That's because the central policy question posed by the Leggett administration was what to do ABOUT the children, not what to do FOR them. Glad to see the young people stepping up to redefine the debate.

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