COMMENT: ‘Bored teenagers’ excuse is getting tired

Vandalism at Gaia Java, overnight on September 12-13.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Vulgar language spraypainted on a church, car break-ins, damage to a heritage home, overturned mailboxes, destruction of a trail cam, benches knocked over along Stittsville Main Street, stolen lawn ornaments… there’s a long list of recent acts of vandalism, minor thefts and property crimes in our community. Sometime overnight from Saturday to Sunday, someone smashed the window at Gaia Java (above). They didn’t break in or take anything, they just broke the window.

Stittsville writer Amanda Gordon brings up some several issues in this column. We’d like to hear from other residents too, especially from teenagers and parents. Send us your thoughts at feedback@stittsvillecentral.ca.

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As residents of Stittsville, my family and I have enjoyed the suburban life. We live in an older area that’s filled with mature trees, driveways that actually fit more than two cars, and a school within steps of our front door. We can walk to the grocery store, drug store, meat market, countless parks, and ice cream shops in just a few minutes. It’s a nice place to raise our two young children, and one that we see ourselves growing old in.

The downside, however, is that it seems to have a serious case of bored and reckless youth syndrome.

A recent wave of vandalism and crime by our community’s youth has the area on high alert. Numerous car break-ins, damaged property including children’s playgrounds and local churches, unexpected visitors in people’s backyards at all hours of the night, and stolen or broken home decor items such as planters and lights. All of it is happening on a seemingly consistent basis.

Vandalism report on Facebook

 

At first people thought it was because school was out for the summer and teenagers had nothing better to do. It didn’t make it right, but it explained why so many of them were roaming the streets with nothing better to do. But school has started and nothing has changed. There have been more car break-ins and a local school has been vandalized.

Who are they, why are they doing this, and how are they getting away with it? Local citizens who have come into contact with some of them peg them to be no older than high school age. Shouldn’t they be at home in the middle of the night? Don’t they have school in the morning or jobs to attend to?

Some say that Stittsville doesn’t offer any good options to keep our youth entertained. No skateboard parks, no local dances, no festivals. What do you expect from a bored teenager? The community should do more to keep them busy.

 

Vandalism report on Facebook

 

But here’s the thing: Being bored shouldn’t equal illegal activity. Being bored shouldn’t equal non-existent morals and values. And being bored shouldn’t jeopardize your respect for others. I think we can all agree that vandalizing a children’s playground with broken glass is pretty low.

It’s true that our community, and any community, holds a certain amount of responsibility for entertaining youth to keep them out of trouble. There should be good places for them to go. But we are not alone in that responsibility. At the end of the day, parents must be accountable for their own kids. They should know where they are and who they are with. Without plugged in parents, the community’s efforts can only go so far.

It’s hard to know what the issue is. Are the kids so entitled and lack so much discipline that they are simply allowed to do whatever they want? Or are the parents trying everything they can to keep their kids on the straight and narrow, and losing?

I’m not oblivious to the fact that teenagers can do less than brilliant things. Testing boundaries, trying to fit in, all of it is to be expected. But once crime comes into the picture, we need to take a serious look at what’s happening. This isn’t nicky nicky nine doors anymore.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Add your comments below or email feedback@stittsvillecentral.ca


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9 thoughts on “COMMENT: ‘Bored teenagers’ excuse is getting tired”

  1. “Being bored shouldn’t equate to illegal activity.”

    No, but lack of respect does. And respect goes both ways. Telling teenagers to be good and moral, but then when a community offers services to every other age group except them, and this is what you get. So yes, being bored can equate to illegal activity. Build them basketball courts, build them skateboard parks, and give them somewhere to hang out an be social – teenagers crave social activities.

    You can’t, as a community, offer them nothing, and expect them to all to just be good. Where are they supposed to be good and still be social at the same time?

    1. I disagree that teens are offered ‘nothing’ in Stittsville. Could there be more? Of course, but that doesn’t mean our teens are lacking opportunities or respect.

      * Schools host a variety of after class clubs and activities
      * There is an outdoor skateboard park, even if it is smaller than some
      * Stittsville has an abundance of beautiful parks and trails — go for a walk, jog with a friend, play basketball or tennis, photograph the beauty, go geocaching
      * Outdoor skating or hockey in the winter
      * Various neighbourhood and community events: dances, performances, sports and races, choirs, bands, movie nights. Participate, or better yet, get involved in organizing a new or existing event
      * Indoor pool, rink, gym, community space, classes
      * Coffee shops to enjoy a warm drink with friends
      * Volunteer opportunities for almost every interest.
      * Youth groups. I believe Youth ConneXion is starting a new program and resuming it’s lounge drop-ins.

    2. Why should we build them basketball courts, build them skateboard parks, and give them somewhere to hang out an be social. Why can’t they find other things to do . Like getting a job, being a positive person in their community and not destroying things. Why not offer the community something and maybe the community will give back…

      I found things to do when I was young and none of them included damaging other peoples properties.

      1. We should we have recreational facilities in this city? Are you seriously asking that?

        Good for you that you found things to do. But do we want to solve the problem or sit here and self-righteously tell teenagers they should behave like us.

  2. I grew up in stittsville and it wasn’t exciting. That doesn’t mean I was wondering the streets and causing harm to people or property. I was taught that it was wrong to do such things. Besides that, kanata is just a hop, skip and a jump down the road. The skate park is a 10 minute drive away, as well as a 100 other activities. Get on a bus, get on a bike or get in your skateboard and get moving! There is no excuse for vandalism. Period. Let’s try to get the police to patrol more or have a more active neighbourhood watch system. This is an issue that the community must work on together. Get the MP involved. Find a solution instead of just waiting for a solution to fall into our laps.

  3. What proof do we have that it is teenagers doing this, other than a group of unruly boys who refuse to move off the road for cars?

    Maybe we should be looking at how to address the issue rather than blaming it on a particular cohert

  4. We didn’t have skateboard parks, basketball courts, dances and such supplied by the city (yes I grew up in Ottawa) and myself and my friends didn’t go around and break into cars, vandalize property and other destructive activities. It’s called being accountable for your actions. How about hang out a friend’s house, bike ride, have a game of baseball, hang out at local parks (you can do this without being destructive). We have to stop hand holding and babying teenagers. They know right from wrong. Stittsville does have baseball diamonds, a skateboard park at GRC, basketball nets at certain parks; I can think of two on West Ridge alone. Make them be accountable. If and when they are caught I hope they get charged.

  5. There’s a lot of self-righteous handwaving going on here. “I didn’t act that way? Why should they?” They shouldn’t. So maybe we should ask them how to solve the problem instead of being (myself included) guilty of armchair quarterbacking.

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