There’s an old young problem

A few words directed at our leaders of the future. We have a real problem with teens in our home town who believe the basic three-Rs learning principles (readin’, ritin ‘ and ‘rithmetic) have been replaced with the 21st century basic three-Fs of feudin’, fightin’ and firearms.

Over the past several months, local police officers have responded to reports of shots fired in neighborhoods more times than one wants to believe. Bullets, objects with more brains than its handlers, have ripped through homes and in one case, taken the life of a child. We hear the cause of the majority of this violence is gang related. And we hear some members of these crews are recruited as early as 11 or 12.

Violence has moved from the streets into our schools, as witnessed recently by a fight involving several “students” at Minden High School. Aftermaths of that fight, police indicated, resulted in a gun scare which led to the evacuation of the MHS football stadium during a scrimmage game. Welcome, Benton team members, fans and news readers everywhere, to our progressive-thinking friendly city.

Juvenile violence isn’t a local phenomenon, but we’re told solutions for the problem we see here and across the country begin at home. Literally. Many psychologists whose essays we’ve read say family environment and positive influencers are leading solutions to filling an emotional void that often leads vulnerable youths to seek solace in gangs. 

But we digress. Our problem here is a concern for our law enforcement agencies. These men and women in uniform need our help. One critical phrase we noticed while reading of the MHS scrimmage incident came from an investigating officer. To paraphrase, that officer said investigators received no cooperation from witnesses in the football stands where someone shouted “Gun!” 

No cooperation. That phrase also translates to no solution. No safety. No change. And for a city that needs a healthy dose of come-together, it also means no progress. 

Our officers are doing all they can to be everywhere and stop everything, but one of our favorite lawmen told us decades ago that a cop on every corner won’t stop crime. Stopping crime, he said, is a cooperative endeavor between dedicated officers and a public willing to step up and be a part of the solution. 

First step to solving a problem is recognizing a problem exists. We’re there. Next step is to provide the means and support to those who are tasked with solving that problem. There are more eyes and ears in the private sector than in Minden’s public service arena. It’s our duty to use what we see and know to help stop problems here, including that of losing an entire generation. 

We’ve said it before: if you bury your head in the sand, it won’t be long ’til the body follows. And if you’re one of those who believes we shouldn’t talk about these negative things because it gives people a bad impression of our city, sand isn’t your only head-hiding place. 

A word of advice to parents and guardians of young people who seem to be heading in the wrong direction. Buy a dictionary and underline the word “respect.” Show these youngsters the word works for both self and others. Neither a strong right hook nor an AR-15 guarantees respect.