Driving down the road you encounter many strange activities. Kids playing tricks on bikes is not uncommon. However on this particular morning to find a couple of kids playing chicken with traffic at a major junction before 4 am was exceptional. Heading out for an early meeting in a distant city with a colleague we both of us noted the age of the children involved, approximately 12 or 13, as we talked in horrified tones.
This curious sight, naturally, took up much of our conversation that morning. Not only were we wondering why these kids were out at a time in the morning when apart from us the only thing on the road was taxi cabs, police cars and the occasional drunk driver. “What sort of parents would let their kids out at this time in the morning?” asked my colleague before sheepishly remembering that he had once snook out early in the morning as well just to experience the thrill of riding through the empty city streets. Yet he barely got a mile down the road when a policeman stopped him and took him home after a lengthy telling off. Of course his parents repeated the stern lecture, not pleased at being woken by the local policeman at such an early hour.
Obviously children do stupid things, it is a part of the learning process. However during our discussions the one aspect I agreed with was that had I or my childhood friends been spotted, irrespective of the time of day, playing the same games then the policeman would have given us a lecture, taken us to the police station, then called our parents before repeating the same lecture in front of them. Then of course we would then have to account for our behaviour on the journey home then again in front of the whole family.I know because my brother was caught playing a minor prank. That was enough to make you think twice before repeating the action.
I have heard it said that today’s children have little respect for authority and that their parents do not care. This may be true for certain elements in society, but in my experience it is not a valid generalisation. I raised my own child with a moral code that ensured he did not go out playing pranks, but not all parents think that way and sadly seem to care little about their children’s future.
Part of the problem here is that police simply do not bother about these kids, unless they had committed a crime. Kids roaming the streets at four in the morning may not be a crime, but it does warrant serious attention. It is an element of protecting the community, even if it is simply a case of giving them a lesson to remember.