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COLUMN: No increase in police – no answer to problem

Talk of reinstating a curfew in a number of Kivalliq communities has picked up steam lately due to the increase in vehicle thefts and senseless acts of vandalism across our region.

A curfew sounds like a good idea in theory. However, the fact of the matter is their time has passed.

Curfews worked well decades ago. But those were simpler times, smaller communities, fewer people, higher moral values and more – much more – community involvement as a whole.

Let's be honest. The youth who are committing these criminal acts in today's world would sneer, if not outright belly laugh, at the mere notion of a curfew.

Times have changed, in many ways for the better, but today's problem child is often a far cry from those of bygone eras.

In fact you can forget all about sugar and spice and everything nice, as crime among female youth is rising at an alarming rate.

While every generation tends to see the ones behind it as less disciplined and respectful than theirs, the truth of the matter – whether you want to accept it or not – is that today's problem child is tougher, smarter, less inhibited, more sinister, and often far more dangerous than his or her predecessors.

They have no time for anything that doesn't benefit themselves, are youthful masters at "playing the game" to manipulate the system to their advantage, have an unprecedented sense of entitlement and feel the world owes them something.

And they're quite prepared to take when they think something is owed.

This is not to say a fair number of them won't be rehabilitated, mature with age and realize they're on the wrong path, or be positively affected by one of numerous programs out there aimed at turning these kids around.

That is not what we are talking about here.

We are talking about dealing with a serious problem that is, on a nightly basis, affecting a good number of people in many of our communities.

We are looking at substantially reducing the number of vehicles being stolen, property being damaged or destroyed through senseless vandalism, and communities being crippled by arson and other forms of wanton destruction to their schools, drop-in centres and community halls or arenas.

To be honest, we can talk all day about how it all starts at home, the lack of parenting skills and the ongoing residual effect of residential schools.

All valid points to some degree, but they do nothing to address the problem and lower the cost to our communities in the here and now.

And the means of doing that is crippled by – like so many other initiatives these days – the lack of money.

That's because the only thing that can bring this ever-growing problem to heel in the here and now is an increased police presence in our communities.

To cut to the chase, no matter how well trained they are and how hard they work, there are just not enough uniformed officers to patrol our communities effectively – around the clock remains but a dream here – and stem the tide with a high level of visibility.

Most of us realize many disenfranchised youth have put up walls to desensitize themselves to the results of their own actions and to hide their pain.

We realize many of them have no real sense of intimacy in their lives, and they face far greater challenges than the average youth. And we support every program from mental health to community justice to help these kids get back on track.

But we also realize the concept of right and wrong is fairly basic and those who choose to commit crimes should be held accountable for their actions.

And that will only happen with an increased number of police officers and bylaw officers patrolling our communities.

In fact, were that possible, there would be far fewer youth to hold accountable for their actions because far less of them would be committing crimes to begin with.

It's a maddening Catch-22 situation – like having a curfew and no one to enforce it.