Youth Curfew Proposed

by Melissa Bailey | August 30, 2006 9:43 AM | | Comments (39)

A sign like this one may soon be hanging on New Haven streets. Seeking solutions to teen violence, aldermen have submitted a proposal for a youth curfew.

A new curfew ordinance has long been in the works, pushed forward by Dwight Alderwoman Joyce Chen after kids on bicycles stirred up trouble in her neighborhood last summer. (Click here for an earlier article with more background.)

Under the proposal submitted Tuesday, children 17 years old and younger would have to stay inside from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. unless accompanied by an authorized adult. Parents of offending kids could be fined up to $99.

Click here to read the proposal.

“As our city is now in the midst of a public safety crisis facing our city’s juveniles, we believe that the Board of Aldermen of the City of New Haven is compelled to act on the overriding need to do everything possible to protect the safety of our city’s youth,” says a letter submitted by Chen, co-signed by Aldermen Elizabeth McCormack, Yusuf Shah and Michelle Edmonds Sepulveda.

Children found out in a public place at night would be taken home to their parents, who would face the following penalties: A written warning at the first offense; a $75 fine at the second; and a $99 fine for the third and all subsequent offenses.

As evidence for an urgent need for a curfew, the ordinance cites this summer’s three teen shooting deaths and several other shootings due to turf wars.

“While we have tremendous respect for the judgment of individual parents, it is clear from all available evidence that the presence of juveniles in public places late at night is inappropriate and risky, and that there is a direct connection … between juveniles on the streets late at night and the incidence of violence or other crimes being inflicted on or by youths,” reads the alders’ letter.

The ordinance makes exceptions for children in cars in “interstate travel” with permission of a parent and youth who are “traveling to or from an activity involving the exercise of first amendment rights of speech, freedom of assembly or freedom of religion.” Juveniles who wish to exercise those rights, e.g. at a peace vigil, have to alert police 24 hours in advance of the place of assembly, and get consent from a parent.

The proposal instructs police not just to ticket youth, but to refer at-risk kids to resources: Police shall “use this ordinance carefully as a tool in attempting to identify at-risk children, or other juveniles in need of follow-up social services, and shall be prepared to inform and refer the juvenile in question regarding appropriate resources offered by state, local and non-profit social service agencies.”

Hill Alderwoman Jackie James, whose neighborhood has been hit with several shootings this summer, said she thought the curfew was “a good idea in theory,” but she’d have to review the law before supporting it. “We need to look at it to ensure that it doesn’t violate any civil rights or liberties, and that it doesn’t leave room for racial profiling.”

Roger Vann, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut, couldn’t be reached Tuesday afternoon, but has previously attacked the idea as unconstitutional and ill-advised. In an interview with the Independent earlier this year, he called the approach a “band-aid” to problems of crime and an “unjustifiable government intrusion on the rights of young people and the rights of parents to direct the movements of their children.” The real solution lies in parent involvement and youth programming, not curfews, he said.

The proposal will be submitted, but not voted on, at a Board of Alderman meeting on Sept. 5.

What do you think? Post your comments below.







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Posted by: nfjanette [TypeKey Profile Page] | August 30, 2006 10:25 AM

Mr. Vann and the ACLU would change their position after a single encounter with a gang of these hoodlums. These kids are out of control and need to be stopped; they may be only 13 years old, but they're hardened by their tough lives into dangerous uncivilized thugs that are hurting and killing people. My sense of social justice stops when these teens start throwing glass bottles at me. We needed this curfew at the start of the summer!

Posted by: Pat McCann | August 30, 2006 10:40 AM

Like every simple "solution" to a complex problem, the devil will be in the details such as "Where will those kids whose parents aren't home end up? at Union Ave, in the custody of the foster system, etc?

Posted by: Ned | August 30, 2006 10:56 AM

Does this mean that the kids will have to do their mugging, robbing and shooting before 10:00pm? I had to have a background check before adopting a dog, to make sure I was fit to take care of it, but apparently anyone can pop out a baby and dump the responsibility onto the "village" to raise it...

Posted by: charlie | August 30, 2006 10:56 AM

Curfews should be instituted at the state level, not by local municipalities, and the state should provide more money for enforcement. Due to massive car fatalities, roving kids out in suburbs and rural areas cause just as many if not more problems than city kids.

Posted by: JSJ | August 30, 2006 11:55 AM

Roger Vann... called the approach a "band-aid" to problems of crime and an "unjustifiable government intrusion on the rights of young people and the rights of parents to direct the movements of their children.� The real solution lies in parent involvement and youth programming, not curfews, he said.

Yes, it is a "band-aid", but when parents are, at best, ineffective and at worst, absent and/ or negligent, who steps in to protect the safety of these children and the rights of the community at large, to its safety and security? Someone has to step up to the plate and I'm not at all unhappy to see it's the alderpeople who know the situation intimately.

Mr. Vann calls a curfew "unjustifiable government intrusion". Please. He's not doing anyone any favors by defending the "rights" of 10- to 15- year olds to be roaming the streets at 2am on bicycles, as I witnessed several weeks ago. Or were they, perhaps, just looking for help with their homework?

Ideally, all parents would "direct the movements of their children," another "right" that Mr. Vann seems to value above the safety of the general public. But we're not living in a perfect world, and until every parent is fully engaged and responsible for their own children's activities, we- the community and the government- have got to step in and be that theoretical Village that it takes, to raise a child.

Posted by: TERENCE | August 30, 2006 6:23 PM

Charlie is Right, Curfews Must be Instituted at the State Level Due to the Fact That Local Municipalites can not inforce there curfew laws
on youths from other municpalites I do not Rember the state But This was Take to court and the city
Lost due to the fact that what do you do for youth
Who do not Live There. You would have to pass a law Like the Handsfree cell phone Bill Which covers the entire State.

Posted by: Paul Wessel | August 30, 2006 8:12 PM

To Nfjanette re: your posting above:

What criteria would you suggest a New Haven police officer use to decide whether a 13 year old kid on the street at 10:15 pm is one of "these teens" or whether she's your daughter or niece walking home from a babysitting job?

Posted by: ? | August 30, 2006 8:27 PM

Curfews are an excellent idea.
If parents can't control their kids, it's our responsibility as citizens to do so.
Taxpaying citizens in New Haven should not have to deal with this crap...Go to bed kiddies.

Posted by: furball [TypeKey Profile Page] | August 30, 2006 10:29 PM

WTNH poll so far 88% in favor of curfew. I consider New Haven government too liberal to take the idea seriously, but perhaps with all that has happened recently, and the clear failure of existing systems, INCLUDING $1,000,000 OF OUR TAX DOLLARS, 0.25 MIL, FOR WOULD BE GOVERNOR DESTEFANO'S YOUTH INITIATIVE, perhaps our 29 Alders are ready to get serious about the matter.

Remember, this curfew should protect teens who are potential victims too. In the police blotter the other night, a 17 year old kid was robbed or stabbed or something on his bicycle... at 10:30 on a Tuesday night. WHAT THE HELL??!!

Posted by: scott | August 31, 2006 4:00 PM

This seems like a good first step for the city to take. Unfortunately many parents (not just in New Haven) do not take responsibility for their children, letting them roam the streets to become victims or perpetrators of crime and violence.
To Hill Alderwoman Jackie James: istead of worrying about a teen's civil rights or liberties being violated, why not consider the rights and liberties of law abiding adults who are terrorized by roving gangs of delinquents? This law has been crafted to preserve any rights (juveniles are not entitled to the same protections under the Constitution) that the teens may have. As far as racial profiling is concerned, I suggest you consider that in the years 1985-1995, the number of arrests under the then current curfew law was 498; of those arrested, Whites accounted for 286; Blacks, 67 and other races, 139.
To Roger Vann : Before you condemn this law as unconstitutional, perhaps you should read it, as well as case law on the rights of juveniles.
To Charlie, who commented "Curfews should be instituted at the state level, not by local municipalities, and the state should provide more money for enforcement. Due to massive car fatalities, roving kids out in suburbs and rural areas cause just as many if not more problems than city kids.": This is a New Haven problem. While some other towns may have a similar issue, the majority of towns in Connecticut do not have this problem. Where in the suburbs have 3 teens died due to gun violence? Further, New Haven has adequate resources to enforce this law-why make the taxpayers of the rest of the state pay for the problem?
Finally, to Paul Wessel: Have you read the ordinance? It states: If a police officer reasonably believes that a juvenile is in a public place in violation...the emphasis here is on whether or not the officer reasonably believes that the juvenile is in violation. I highly doubt a juvenile walking home from babysitting is in danger of a summons.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 31, 2006 5:03 PM

I definitely support a curfew....I live in a nice neigborhood where these obnoxious brats decide to come and start trouble at 11/12pm at night, including usingtrees on our properties as their personal urinals, setting off fireworks under cars, going into peoples yards and driveways, and checking out cars - I suppose to see if there is anything they would like to help themselves, too. The parents don't care because there is no accountability; kids get away with it because the NHPD will drive right by kids that are out on bikes at late hours of the night or not respond to calls about their behavior (some of which is dangerous to themselves).

I think we need a curfew, but the reality is, will it be enforced if it is put into place?

Posted by: kristen | August 31, 2006 5:05 PM

I definitely support a curfew - these obnoxious brats decide to come and start trouble at 11/12pm at night, including using trees on our properties as their personal urinals, setting off fireworks under cars, going into peoples yards and driveways, and checking out cars - I suppose to see if there is anything they would like to help themselves to. The parents don't care because there is no accountability; kids get away with it because the NHPD will drive right by kids that are out on bikes at late hours of the night or not respond to calls about their behavior (some of which is dangerous to themselves).

I think we need a curfew, but the reality is, will it be enforced if it is put into place?

Posted by: Ben | August 31, 2006 11:00 PM

We're a few steps from people worrying about walking on the streets of New Haven again.
Soon enough we'll see the restaurant industry crumble and shortly there after will be the quick flight to the burbs.
This really needs to be cut short before it affects the greater whole of New Haven.
We need the people in the nice neighborhoods despite how uppitty their voice in this discussion might sound.
I feel so redundant, but we really need to get back to community policing.
Many newbies who have such a good view of New Haven have never seen the bad side, let's hope they don't have to.
This city has just risen from the muck, it could easily fall back down.
Instill the curfews immediately and then lets start talking about what's next.

Posted by: nfjanette [TypeKey Profile Page] | September 1, 2006 12:06 AM

What criteria would you suggest a New Haven police officer use to decide whether a 13 year old kid on the street at 10:15 pm is one of "these teens" or whether she's your daughter or niece walking home from a babysitting job?

Since the existence of these packs of animals makes the streets too dangerous for my children to walk home from babysitting, it's not currently an issue. I know from first hand experience that the curfew isn't the end-all be-all answer: the local pack last caused trouble on our street at 7 PM. But it seems to get worse after dark, so it's one more tool in the hands of law enforcement, and that's a good thing.

Posted by: Lovebabz | September 1, 2006 12:46 AM

My, My, My,

It is amazing the tone of this discussion referring to children as animals, calling them anything and everything except a child of God. Sure the police could pick kids up and take them to Union Ave, or maybe home, or maybe to a concentration camp. Out of sight out of mind. Perhaps we should start rounding up children early in the day so you wouldn't have to see them at all. Maybe children aren't our future. Maybe we should throw them away at birth like trash. Maybe we should institute a mandatory birth control law so no more children are born into this world. We could weed out the undesirable ones--the ones that come from single mother homes, or poor homes, or certainly we could round up the all the Black and Latino ones---finish what the jail system has started--or better still what the education system can't do.

I keep thinking about Alice Walker--"Anything we Love, can be saved" That is where we begin. Try loving these children and honoring them and respecting them and caring for them. Once you do that, you might just get your place in the sun. Safe streets, proud youth, stronger neighborhoods and peace all over the world, or atleast where you live.

Try changing your attitudes about youth and see what happens. I dare you!

Posted by: rp | September 1, 2006 7:16 AM

Earlier this summer I spoke with a New Haven school psychologist who said that within 2 months of summer funding programs being cut--the town's crime rates immediately increased. It wasn't uncommon for her to see kids in school and then that night on the news. This started happening ~3 years ago.

The cuts happened at the federal level--funds were re-directed overseas . . . the budget cuts may be one of the key factors contributing to the nationwide increase in violence.

Posted by: Ned | September 1, 2006 8:19 AM

Here we go with the "god" blather. Yes, appealing to the invisible sky god will make everything right; or maybe Alice Walker can round up all of the little angels and civilize them? Humans are animals and need to be socialized. There's no perfect society. I'm guessing some of the worst kids, in New Haven, have zero respect for their parent(s) because the parent(s) brought the kid into the ghetto, with little or nothing to offer in the way of material, intellectual or social support - probably doesn't feel so great to realize that you may be the product of a desperate attempt to alleviate boredom and dependent on handouts, with no opportunity in sight. If I wanted to take care of a kid, I would have had one of my own. The curfew is a good idea. Street crime will destroy New Haven. I think mandatory birth control is an excellent idea - especially if you're expecting everyone else to pay for your spawn. 6 billion people on the planet, we hardly need more. All of the above aside, with the money wasted in Iraq, every kid in New Haven could have had a great education, all of their material needs met and a future.

Posted by: JSJ [TypeKey Profile Page] | September 1, 2006 8:40 AM

Babz,

After witnessing an unprovoked assault by a group of kids on bicycles, I've lost all of my idealistic inclinations and see the searing truth in the majority of these posts. We have a problem that love, honor and respect isn't gonna change. These kids don't want the relationships with the community that are necessary to enable those lofty ideals to take hold. They just want to scare people. They want to see fear.

I'm sorry if I'm part of the system that made them that way, but really, I'm just trying to be a good person, raising kids that wouldn't ever dream of throwing large chunks of asphalt at passing bicyclists (as a group of youngsters on bikes did to a co-worker's friend this summer), picking up the trash and broken glass that yes,... kids on bikes left on the sidewalk. Is a clear picture starting to emerge yet?

Alice Walker's words are nice, but what would she do if the car she was driving turned a corner and was suddenly surrounded by a, let's be brutally honest here, pack of 10 or so kids, banging on the vehicle and yelling at the occupants (as recently happened in my neighborhood). Would she fling wide open the doors and offer to take them all out for ice cream?

I guess it wouldn't surprise you to hear that I am a proud and outspoken advocate of rounding up children early in the day. I call it parenting. It should be done by parents. If parents refuse to do the work, it must be done by someone else. But it can't not be done.

This problem needs a solution because it's only going to get worse. It must be made clear: the streets of New Haven are not safe. They're not safe for kids and they're not safe for others in the community. You're an alderwoman. Aside from lashing out at people who are expressing their legitimate frustration and wrapping your loving arms around the problem, what are you going to do?

Posted by: charlie | September 1, 2006 9:26 AM

Scott, roving kids in cars cause far more problems than urban kids who shoot a few of their friends each year. They are inexperienced drivers, drive late at night, drink and drive, and rack up massive fatality numbers. A curfew should be instituted statewide, not just in certain municipalities. Also, in addition to funding a curfew, the state should step in and provide more funding for youth programs. I would guess that expanding good youth programs is much more effective than hiring additional police.

Posted by: Kristen | September 1, 2006 1:20 PM

To Alice -

There are programs/resources available for these kids to engage in other activities besides mischief or criminal ones...every day in the paper I read that this is offered free, that is offered free. True some of these kids may have not come from the best homes but what you choose to do with your life is a CHOICE - these kids don't HAVE TO go out and cause trouble, they to cause trouble. Libraries are free - they can go there and read a book (and actually learn something important)instead of peeing on people's property, riding their bikes right into oncoming cars...During the school year they can CHOOSE to do homework, study instead of engaging in useless activities. They can take part in the many extracurricular activities offered by New Haven schools.

And yes, if a parent can afford the time or money to take care of chidren, then yes, they should stop having them. That is also a CHOICE...it sickens me to know that there are so many families that are unable to have children because of physical problems but would provide a loving home and we have other individuals having kids left and right and they can care less about what there kids are doing...except for the money they bring in.

I see young girls walking around at 10/11 at night, or children around the age of 9/10...how can parents let their children do this?

Posted by: Lovebabz | September 1, 2006 7:17 PM

JSJ,

Before I am alderwoman, I am a mother of 4 little children that my husband and I adopted--that's what we are doing. Raising children is truly a community commitment--whatever your community is--where ever your community is. I am always hopeful, ever optimistic and forever prayerful. You can say what you want, make all the necessary arguments, but at the end of the day, you and people like you fail children every single day. YOU FAIL because you have given up on them. You want someone else to deal with this. Beleive it or not we can't arrest this problem away. And sure parents have a huge responsiblity to reign in their kids--but saying that and seeing that, can be light years apart. Talking shit is just that. I spend my days working with young people on probation and parole--talking tough , but always supportive, always prayful and always straight. It's a tough world out there and they know it and they act accordingly. It ain't pretty, and it ain't easy. These kids look like my kids, they look like me. So I am forever on their side and forever in their corner. My days as alderwoman will end, but in the meantime, as alders, we can raise the bar on real conversations about how to address our youth issues. I tell you what, move away to a suburban neighborhood where you never ever have to deal with dangerous Black and Latino youth, or hit the streets with your liberal, God fearing, do-good friends and work on solutions. I am not trying to be insulting, just real. This is my world, welcome.

Posted by: JSJ [TypeKey Profile Page] | September 2, 2006 9:15 PM

Babz,

You've made an awful lot of assumptions about me that simply aren't true. In previous posts, I have stated only my personal observations based on things that I have seen in the past couple of years that I've been living here. No "talking shit", just the facts.

And to be honest, the list of things I've seen in this short time is even longer and more heart-wrenching than I stated. I forgot to mention the time last fall when a kid, couldn't have been more than fourteen, was cornered in my yard by my neighbor's dog at about 11pm on a Saturday night. He'd been part of a group of kids, some as young as 7 or 8, that had been just hanging out on the corner- peacefully- until a car passed and sprayed them with bullets- fortunately and only by the grace of God not so much as injuring one of them. Need a curfew? You bet.

I have no desire to move out of the city to the suburbs (been there, done that); I'm perfectly happy to be a part of the very same neighborhood that my great-grandparents called home. But I want to see it be a safe place for all of its inhabitants, regardless of race or socio-economic status. It's a beautiful neighborhood that needs to thrive, just like all the rest.

Give up? Nah, I haven't given up on anyone. Look, I've put in time guiding young urban parents through the employment process and being their advocate. I have a good sense of what they're dealing with. When they talked about their kids, they expressed their hope that they could keep them away from the gangs, the Tre. Several wouldn't let their kids go out unaccompanied. I heard plenty of stories about who got shot, who got AIDS, who disappeared. We talked, I gave support, I empathized- and I prayed that they'd find their way in a world full of obstacles.

But they need tools to succeed. Everyone I worked with acknowledged that there are too many neglected "babies" with Mommas that can't take care of them and baby's daddies that were on to the next opprtunity. What can be done? What is the role of the community? And how can we demand accountability from parents--- the biggest, most important part of the equation.

We need a plan.

Posted by: Mk | September 3, 2006 9:18 AM

You can pray, you can continue being optimistic and supportive but where has that gotten us this summer? I think that the days of gentle coddling are DONE. Far too many mothers have buried their kids this summer...do you think they would rather have their children at home complaining about the cops herding them indoors???I venture to say yes. I understand the notion of self-fullfilling prophesy: the less you expect of a person the less they give. But, at some point we have to be pissed enough to say if parents refuse to do it, we need to untie the hands of legislation and do it ourselves. I live in the city and I refuse to watch the kids around me lose their lives anymore. You can continue to pray...but I hope as a community we decide to DO SOMETHING. This curfew may have a lot of details to be worked out, but it is worth the life of just one kid it might save, don't you think?

Posted by: Ned | September 3, 2006 9:22 AM

An ounce of prevention...

http://www.projectprevention.org/

Posted by: nfjanette [TypeKey Profile Page] | September 3, 2006 11:35 AM

This is my world, welcome.

Some welcome! Look elsewhere for middle class white guilt - you'll find none here. Between JSJ and I we've got the Italian, Irish, Jewish, and native American background to qualify us as real American mutts rather than WASP purebreds. We didn't make the urban problems that exist today, nor did our forefathers, who were hard working and law abiding contributing members of the New Haven area that largely worked their way up from immigrant poverty. Along the way they learned to speak English well and took up trades. For our part, we've tried helping in many different ways including teaching in various youth outreach programs over the years, without much of a sense of any success. We also donate whatever we can to various organizations that help families in need.

None of that changes the fact that when the urban teen kids hang out in packs they adopt a predatory posture and are harassing, hurting, and sometimes killing innocent citizens. They must, therefore, be stopped with whatever legal means are necessary, no matter how much you love them. They do not rule the streets, we do.

Posted by: Lovebabz | September 3, 2006 1:03 PM

JSJ,
It is nice to know that everyone has done something. But it won't be about individual commitment--it will have to be a collective movement. I make no assumptions about no one. Nor do I want to make you defend to me about your community commitments. Everyone is liberal and well-meaning until well...shit happens. It's like saying I am not racist , look at how many Black Friends I have. So what, great!

Look the betterment and support of young people has to be a concern of everyone. We must begin to see all children as belonging to all of us. Not just your kids or my kids. Every child is my child and I treat them accordingly. But this is how I choose to move forward. I defend nothing, nor do I apologize. The violence that has plagued our streets is about Black on Black crime. So for me this is quite personal. We can't arrest this problem away. And I hate this "US" vs "Them" mentality--which is so very White American Cowboy" and so not wholistic, healing or community focused.

I am not interested in being right or hearing how right you are. I just want intelligent well thought out solutions. A plan, we are the plan. There is no magic pill. Just folks coming together to work in community. This is a world wide crisis from New Haven to Nigeria, Paris to Pittsburgh and everywhere in between.

By virture of the color of my skin, I don't have the luxury of walking away, moving away. Say what you want and do what you will, these kids aren't going away and no curfew or concentration-like setting is going to rid our neighborhoods of their presence.

I am always hopeful, eternally optimistic and divinely prayerful. I beleive anything we love can be saved. And I operate from there. Every kid is my kid, every child is my child. There is a line from the play "A Raisin In the Sun" The Matriarch says to the granddaughter--who was upset that the Brother--gave away all the insurance money the family recieved from the death of their father. She said that you don't love someone when they are on top of the world, but when the woprld has kicked them to the curb. Rent the movie--the Sidney Poitier version. The Play was written by Lorrraine Hansberry--To Be Young, Gifted and Black.

These are our kids. Whether we own that or not, whether we see them as animals, whether they are dangerous or not. They belong to us and the sooner we get that, the sooner we can get to real solutions.

I appreciate the dialogue and your willingness to open up and keep it real. We are all in this together.

Posted by: Lovebabz | September 3, 2006 1:04 PM

JSJ,
It is nice to know that everyone has done something. But it won't be about individual commitment--it will have to be a collective movement. I make no assumptions about no one. Nor do I want to make you defend to me about your community commitments. Everyone is liberal and well-meaning until well...shit happens. It's like saying I am not racist , look at how many Black Friends I have. So what, great!

Look the betterment and support of young people has to be a concern of everyone. We must begin to see all children as belonging to all of us. Not just your kids or my kids. Every child is my child and I treat them accordingly. But this is how I choose to move forward. I defend nothing, nor do I apologize. The violence that has plagued our streets is about Black on Black crime. So for me this is quite personal. We can't arrest this problem away. And I hate this "US" vs "Them" mentality--which is so very White American Cowboy" and so not wholistic, healing or community focused.

I am not interested in being right or hearing how right you are. I just want intelligent well thought out solutions. A plan, we are the plan. There is no magic pill. Just folks coming together to work in community. This is a world wide crisis from New Haven to Nigeria, Paris to Pittsburgh and everywhere in between.

By virture of the color of my skin, I don't have the luxury of walking away, moving away. Say what you want and do what you will, these kids aren't going away and no curfew or concentration-like setting is going to rid our neighborhoods of their presence.

I am always hopeful, eternally optimistic and divinely prayerful. I beleive anything we love can be saved. And I operate from there. Every kid is my kid, every child is my child. There is a line from the play "A Raisin In the Sun" The Matriarch says to the granddaughter--who was upset that the Brother--gave away all the insurance money the family recieved from the death of their father. She said that you don't love someone when they are on top of the world, but when the woprld has kicked them to the curb. Rent the movie--the Sidney Poitier version. The Play was written by Lorrraine Hansberry--To Be Young, Gifted and Black.

These are our kids. Whether we own that or not, whether we see them as animals, whether they are dangerous or not. They belong to us and the sooner we get that, the sooner we can get to real solutions.

I appreciate the dialogue and your willingness to open up and keep it real. We are all in this together.

Posted by: ? | September 3, 2006 11:49 PM

I watched a 6" rock pass within inches of the head of a teamate at the Willow st fields.
The kids didn't bother to run they just sat there and laughed. If that rock had hit his head the outcome could have ranged from a severe hemmorage to death.
We are talking about animals...and it is not the fault of society or the community, it is the fault of the parents.
I understand that the word "animal" leaves a nasty taste in the mouth of the black community Babz but this is not an issue of race, it is an issue of parenting.

Posted by: JSJ [TypeKey Profile Page] | September 4, 2006 4:42 PM

From 1 September: You can say what you want, make all the necessary arguments, but at the end of the day, you and people like you fail children every single day. YOU FAIL because you have given up on them.

From 3 September: Nor do I want to make you defend to me about your community commitments.

Babz, what do you want from me? In response to your allegation that I was personally responsible for the failure of a segment of society, I backed up my story by giving proof of having walked the walk. And yes, I've seen the movie. And the play. Twice- it was good.

But in order to adequately even begin to address the issue at hand- and the issue is not whether all children are godly and loveable- but how do we quell the violence which too-often involves young children and the community at large.

I asked what you'd do as an alderwoman, and you gave no answer. I appreciate the hard work you and your husband do every day raising your own family, and perhaps by setting this example, you're doing good for others. But this issue, as you've said, isn't about individual commitment. This is an issue which affects the city of New Haven, and I'd like to see some plan of action offered up by the City of New Haven. It shouldn't have to be about a concentration-like setting, it doesn't even have to be about a curfew. But what else can be done? The view from the ground is that you guys are throwing your hands in the air and acting helpless, because we're surely not seeing action (other than a curfew proposal).

We need programs to keep our kids in school, parenting (and how to not become a teen parent) education, homework help programs. We need active involvement with families- making sure kids get the parenting they need in order to have even a fighting chance of getting dinner every night, not to mention living a safe, violence-free, poverty-free life. We need this stuff for the kids before they get lured into the trouble, while there's still a chance of reaching them relatively easily. And hell, I'll even go so far as to say we need to make sure the police show up when kids are causing real trouble, because it sure doesn't send the right message when kids know there are no repercussions for their behavior.

Yes, I know these things cost money, but what's the cost of doing nothing?

Posted by: JSJ [TypeKey Profile Page] | September 4, 2006 4:48 PM

Sorry- paragraph should read:

But in order to adequately even begin to address the issue at hand- and the issue is not whether all children are godly and loveable- but how do we quell the violence which too-often involves young children and the community at large, we have to acknowledge that some pretty young kids are out doing some pretty bad stuff, often (but not always) pretty late at night.

Posted by: Lovebabz | September 5, 2006 6:51 AM

What I should have said is WE fail kids everyday. We fail kids because we are all wringing our hands about this issue and and we think there is no clear direction or clear paln. Who cares if I am alderwoman or not, that is so not the issue. The Board is wrestling with this notion of curfews and some of my colleagues who have the violence in their neighborhoods make a good case for curfews. My role in all of this is both personal and political. To raise the conversation about youth issues. To continue to lobby our State and Federal legislators for more funding for youth programs. To volunteer locally working with young people. What I want from you is what I want from myself, time and commitment to the issues facing youth. Not frustration and hopelessness. There is no magic wand, magic pill or magic bus. The police can't solve this problem simply by arresting children. Think about it, how long will it take before we have problems with the Police picking up kids, and if there is no responsible adult at home--do they take the kids to Union Ave, or Whalley Ave and for how long? And if no one shows up to bail them out do we call DCF? What happens if many of these kids are already in the care of foster homes? These are the things I have to think about as Alderwoman. Personally and this is all personal to me--these kids look like me. I can't not be concerned or involved. As I said the care of children is a community responsibility--it does take a village. But what happens if there is no village. I want you to be that village, I want me to be that village, I want the BOA to be that village. Theese aren't easy times, but we can't just push this off as a police issue even though it looks like it at first glance. There is more here than meets the eye. And all I am suggesting is that we spend the time looking at ways to wholistically and realistically look at the problems facing our youth. At the end of the day, they are still children, albeit dangerous, but children nonetheless.

Posted by: JSJ [TypeKey Profile Page] | September 5, 2006 7:40 AM

Babz writes:
The police can't solve this problem simply by arresting children. Think about it, how long will it take before we have problems with the Police picking up kids, and if there is no responsible adult at home--do they take the kids to Union Ave, or Whalley Ave and for how long? And if no one shows up to bail them out do we call DCF? What happens if many of these kids are already in the care of foster homes?

Babz, if children are breaking the law, there's got to be a police response. Throwing and rocks at people... if I did that, the police would show up and ruin my day. But if you're in a group of kids doing this stuff, you get a free pass to go do it some more. Kids are brazen because they know nothing's going to happen. Wrong message!

So, the police pick up a kid and there's no responsible parent at home- are you telling me there's no procedure in place, that this would be a new and unique situation? Shouldn't DCF become involved at some point? I mean, just sending this kid home to a tenuous situation isn't my idea of the village raising the child.

And if the kid's already in foster care, the foster parents have to be held accountable. After all, they're the ones receiving the State checks for their stellar work. (I know how this works. I've been a foster parent and was shocked by the abuse of the system by "career" foster parents- which is not to say there aren't many incredible foster parents, but that the awful ones are cashing in by putting up little or nothing).

You say Who cares if I am alderwoman or not, that is so not the issue. Do you want to know who cares? We do. To the citizens of New Haven and especially to your constituents, it is the issue. You and your paid, elected colleagues are on the leading front of our communities. You are our advocates and our representatives, and we need to know that our concerns about violence and childrens' safety and well-being are being adequately conveyed.

Posted by: Lovebabz | September 5, 2006 10:55 AM

JSJ,

I have no interest in being right as you seem to be. OK your right. You are absolutely right. You are right on all points. You are so right that if there was a righter way you would be that too. In the meantime, I will continue to have this discussion with people who are interested in real solutions. My colleagues that serve on the BOA without pay will wrestle with this issue and we will come up with small solutions to address the immediate problem. But I know that this problem can't be arrested away. And someday I won't be an alderwoman, but I will be a citizen of this city and my neighborhood or some neighborhood and this wil still be a problem. Thursday I am attending the funeral of the child that was killed last Wednesday. This child was like a nephew to me. I knew him and I knew his people. I know that this problem is national issue and one way or another we will either have a larger population of children incarcerated or dead. We choose.

Posted by: newhavennative | September 5, 2006 4:28 PM

LOVEBABZ & JSJ -



You both seem concerned about youth and violence in New Haven committed to finding solutions to this issue.



You also seem frustrated with each other - Babz, because you see J as being aggressive, pessimistic, and arguing specific points just to be right, and J, because you see Babz as being defensive, making assumptions about you and not offering a concrete proposal as an Alderperson.



I think that something productive and positive could happen if you, J (concerned New Havener) and you, Babz (elected Alderperson) met with eachother, away from this back-and-forth, and worked with other Alders and constituents who are finding solutions (I am assuming that J is one of Babz constituents - or that J is in touch with his/her alderperson and Babz with his/her constituents on this issue).



I appreciate reading your exchange and am glad that you are engaging each other, but the frustrations that you have with each other are distracting from the REAL concern. I believe that time and thought would be best used researching what has worked in other cities, meeting to generate and debate ideas, and implementing solutions.


Posted by: ? | September 5, 2006 8:08 PM

Are these the comments of an Alderwoman or a scriptwriter?
Babz,
You need to leave the dramatics out of the debate and answer the questions that are put to you.
I think you are to overwhelemed with this problem and at the same time letting your emotions run the conversation.
You have written a sizeable essay in this forum and yet I hear no solutions or alternatives to a curfew.
And yes I do expect these things from you over any of these other readers as you are a publicly elected official who is paid with our tax dollars.
However, though my previous words may be insulting, I give you tremendous credit for your level of accountability as a politician in your efforts to battle it out with the people that may or may not have elected you.
Cheers!

Posted by: R. Alden | September 5, 2006 10:01 PM

Hi Babz,
You live in my neighborhood on Bellview Ave, a largely middle/upper middle class area. Police repond quickly to calls (most of us have alarm systems), there's little violence, and the roving kids on bikes aren't from our neighborhood. If you truly want to love and embrace the troubled youth of the city, you're living in the wrong area. Try Newhallville, the Hill, parts of Fairhaven and the Dwight neighborhood, or one of the neighborhoods that these kids tend to hang out in. It's fine to be righteous and lofty in your ideals, it's another thing to live in the areas where scary stuff happens on a regular basis. In that case, the violence really would be personal because it would threaten you and your children. And sure you could move to the suburbs, why couldn't you? You practically live there now. And please, spare us any hint of the BOA as being unpaid, selfless individuals serving the city. Everything is political here and the corruption is rampant (the BOA is no exception).

Posted by: Noah [TypeKey Profile Page] | September 5, 2006 10:52 PM

I've enjoyed reading this exchange and it gives me hope in regards to the issue. I'd like to add my encouragement to both major and minor voices - and I hope our local leaders are taking note.


In my work with the local youth - our children, I see myself in them just as the alderwoman has written. Our young men are short on positive models to follow and they are acting out in what they see as powerful ways.


On the other hand, my friend and coworker was assaulted for no reason this summer by the demographic described and during the late evening. I can't help but to think how a curfew might have affected last summer's violence.


I think New Haven has many strong divisions among communities and groups. These divisions, whether they be physical, economic, social or racial, need to be discussed. Until they are we will see bandaids as truly viable solutions and perhaps the only solutions.


Without a community, there can be no community policing - and more importantly, no way to see yourself as part of the solution.


As the situation stands, I support curfews. Even if it is ineffectively enforced and makes no change in the behavior, I think it is in step with what we value: a town where we are safe - even in the dark.

Posted by: Lovebabz | September 6, 2006 12:24 PM

My colleagues on the BOA are spending a great deal of time researching and talking with other municipalities across the country. We have been working on this for quite sometime--well before the rash of fatal shootings. My frustration really lies with the notion of curfews, and I know my colleagues are concerned with every aspect of what they may mean for our neighborhoods. I live in Beaer Hill because I like living in New Haven. I used to live in City Point in the HIll--but couldn't find a house large enough to support our efforts in building family though adoption. I don't feel like I live in the suburburbs--I feel like I live in New Haven--a urban city with provencial overtones. Trust me, many of the kids that live in my neighborhood have gotten into trouble---it just never made the papers or neighbors never got wind of it--but trust me--I have been called on many nights about kids from from Beaver Hill--Black & White kids. We have had 3 shootings in Beaver Hills--2 on Bellevue Road and one on Winthrop and gunfire on Norton--I don't have to go to Newhallville or the Hill. I don't have all the answers--for me the way forward is with a broken heart, I gots no script--I go my own way. I do know that as we keep talking and thinking and dreaming that we could come up with real solutions. Curfews coupled with a comprehensive plan to address the issue probably would go a long way to curbing youth violence for now. I am a dyed in the whole optimist--not too much breaks my spirit. If you know me then you would know that I always see the glass half full, that there are silver linings in every cloud, that the world is a magical and wonderous place and I love that I get to be in it! I know who I am and I am quite happy. So everything I take on I come to it with that sense of enthusiasm. Say whatever you like, insult me, attack my character, call me a foll, whatever. I refuse to see any child as an animal, or as garbage, or as anything other than a living breathing human being. Yes I aware that some kids are dangerous and violent, some kids are murderous and treacherous. But I know as I live and breathe that we all need someone to care about what happens to us. When the public hearing begin around theis issue I hope to see as many people as possible weigh in and give voice. Yes, I am quite dramatic--always have been, I feel things so deeply--not good for a politician--but so what. My days as alderwoman are coming to a close and I have tried to do a decent job on behalf of my nieghbors and all of New Haven. Sometimes we get it right, sometimes well... anyway. This has been good discussions. Keep it going.

Posted by: ashley burney | September 9, 2006 10:45 AM

there are all these talks of youth being "animals" or "obnoxious brats", i think that if you really knew and understood youth then you'd think twice before you make judgements about people you don't even know a thing about. my name is ashley burney, i attend youth rights media, and i am an 11th grader at hill regional career high school. we're not animals, we're not loud, rude, obnoxious brats. we're NOT ruthless. we are human beings. you guys talk about bringing about a 10 o'clock curfew but think about, is it really going to change the way youth look at you? you guys demand respect but here's a little advice for you, you have to give respect to get it. you guys sit here and try to make decisions for us without knowing how we really are. i think it's time adults start being more open minded and start thinking OUTSIDE the box for a change. you take one picture of a youth who is acting out in a negative way and automatically ASSUME that this is the way all youth behave. before you start making decisions w/o knowing your facts, stop, take a moment, think about it, why can't youth come to you? why don't we openly talk to you about stuff that's on our mind? i'll tell you why, you are heartless and they way we feel is that why even waste our breath? we KNOW that you're just going to try to shut us down which is exactly what you're doing right now. i can bet you any amount of money that if you actually got to know a youth and found out what they go through, their struggles, and why some of them act the way they do, then you'd think twice before you judge us. because you know what? YOU DON'T KNOW US!

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