Advice Needed: How to Let Go in an Area With “Roving Youth” Problem?

Readers trahkkthzh
— This mom needs your advice. So do I! 

Dear Free-Range Kids:  I am a long time follower and was doing Free-Range before I knew what Free-Range was. (We are also unschoolers a la Peter Gray – before he knew what that was lol.)I have 6 children, ages 20 yrs to 7 months.

We live in a fairly larger metro of appx 2m (Kansas City if that is relevant).  It is fairly diverse on an economic, racial, education, etc level.  Our city is really struggling with what would best be described as large groups of roving youth.  Concern about the potential and actual behavior of these groups has contributed to our city really cracking down on the ability of all kids to be treated in a Free-Range way.  Most cities (our metro is made up of a large number of “suburbs) have some type of day and night curfew.  Certain “entertainment districts” have even more strict curfews over the summer months in response to fights, intimidation, gun crimes, etc by youth.

There is talk about even limiting the ability of youth to be at the zoo by themselves.  Our closest movie theater does not allow anyone under the age of 18 on the property without a parent/guardian at any time — this was not a corporate decision, but based on experiences that management had at that specific theater.

Over the weekend multiple fights broke out at a large (and expensive!) amusement park in town — leaving folks to wonder if new rules should be implemented, and many others to question if they would be comfortable allowing their own teens to enjoy the park in the future.

So how are Free-Rangers to handle this on both a personal and a society wide level?  Some argue that it is “lack of things to do” for the kids — but often they are actually at places designed for their enjoyment (movies, zoo, amusement park).  Additionally, part of “Free-Range” has always seemed to be the importance of free time for kids/teens to fill creating their own lives.  The youth in question range in age from 11 or 12 through late teens.

I know that we aren’t going to solve all of the social ills at FRK — I’m just wondering about practical, concrete steps we can take individually and collectively to encourage and support a culture of Free-Range.

Thank you! — Jessica Mattingly

Dear Jessica: It feels like a sort of virus has overtaken the kids there — a combination of malaise, boredom, not being “needed” (like, say, working as a mother’s helper or grocery clerk) and entropy (if that’s the word for bad things just getting worse, thanks to nothing else changing).

Society-wise I think the answer is incorporating young people into the real fabric of the city, not just as takers consuming ever more amusements, but as givers — building parks, visiting the elderly, or simply having to rise to responsibility. But in the meantime, what might make sense is getting your local neighborhood together for a party or meeting, and brainstorming ideas for projects for the rest of the summer. Can the “youths” paint a mural downtown or run a camp with minimal adult supervision? Can they commit to cleaning up some forlorn part of town and be rewarded somehow?

I realize these are ideas that need adult involvement, at least to get them off the ground, but it feels like the young people really need a star-over for the summer, and maybe it literally takes a village. I look forward to hearing what happens there, and also to all the readers’ ideas. – L 

What's the matter with Kansas (City)?

What’s the matter with Kansas (City)?

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36 Responses to Advice Needed: How to Let Go in an Area With “Roving Youth” Problem?

  1. MichaelF July 10, 2014 at 12:50 pm #

    Seems more like lack of responsible parenting. If the kids are getting into fights this says to me that there are large groups of kids who are “letting themselves go” and in a way that does not have adult supervision. Or any sort of parental concern for their actions. Whether it’s socio-economic or not, this always tends to happen in larger cities and then because of the actions of a few the many are inconvenienced.

    If you can’t send kids to the movies or even the zoo without supervision it seems like the problem is of epidemic proportions or the news media has blown it up.

  2. Emily July 10, 2014 at 12:53 pm #

    Lenore has it right. Young people need fun things to do, but they also need opportunities to take age-appropriate responsibilities, and contribute to their respective communities. So, the zoo, the theme park, and the movie theatre are all well and good, but the ideas for the mural, teen-run day camp, etc., would give a lot of kids/teenagers a positive outlet for their energy, an opportunity to develop some real skills, and others would benefit as well.

  3. BL July 10, 2014 at 1:01 pm #

    Sounds to me like it’s a small handful causing the problems and the knee-jerk response is to treat everyone under 18 as guilty. Deal with the troublemakers (some of whom appear to be actually criminal) and leave the rest alone.

  4. Dirk July 10, 2014 at 1:10 pm #

    Poverty is what causes this.

  5. lollipoplover July 10, 2014 at 1:49 pm #

    One of the fundamentals of allowing our children freedom is the acceptance that with independence comes personal responsibility. So hold those few bad apples accountable for their actions. “Roving youths” who cause fights and make the community want to institute curfews to restrict freedoms for all kids are destined for a life in the criminal justice system.

    This is more complicated that simply giving them something to do. Poverty, lack of role models, boredom, and youthful stupidity won’t be solved with a mural…but I think we need to give kids outlets to help them contribute and become a vested member of their community.
    Here’s a few things I can think of:
    Community gardens (sell the produce!)
    Drama and theater groups (and performances)
    upcycle art classes (and sell the art)
    Free neighborhood sports leagues that organize pick-up games/train kids as referees

    I live in the ‘burbs and don’t have the crime issue. We do have a large variety of outdoor sports/swim/play complexes that are heavily used all year round to keep kids entertained and out of trouble. What I have noticed recently is more of the tween/teen athletes taking over former volunteer jobs held by parents…for pay.
    My son’s best friend just got hired for his first job as an announcer for weekend baseball tournaments. He’s 13. They league is paying him $8 an hour and he’s busy compiling music and other musings. Pretty cool stuff for a teenager.

  6. J- July 10, 2014 at 1:53 pm #

    I have a political solution, that some people may not like, but…

    We need to have a separate minimum wage law and payroll tax for people under 17. Growing up in a family business, I did not get a pay check. I worked, and got some cash handed to me at the end of the week. I was made useful during spring break and the summer and the under the table way I was paid was easy for the business. Many kids of small family business have the same experience. But if you are 14 – 17 and you try to find a summer job, the business that hire you have to account for minimum wage, child labor laws, payroll tax and everything else. It is just too hard to hire a 15 year old to work a couple of hours a day for a few buck and hour, so it doesn’t get done. Making it easier to hire teens to do odd jobs would encourage business to do it, business would benefit from cheap labor, the teens would have something to do, money for fun, and work experience.

  7. Ann in L.A. July 10, 2014 at 2:07 pm #


    Not necessarily. Middle class suburban kids get bored too. Kids live in a culture that is full of casual violence. Too many seem more likely to laugh and pull out their cell phones to film someone getting beaten up than call the cops. It’s just another form of entertainment.

    There seems to be a great lack of empathy out there today.

  8. K July 10, 2014 at 2:19 pm #

    It’s a problem where I live too. The city just passed a mandatory curfew…kids under 14 need to be home and INSIDE by 9 pm year round, 14-16 by 10 on school nights and 11 on other nights. Kids can be out and about with parents, of course. During the day, gangs of kids on bikes ride on major streets during rush hour to cause trouble, and they rove around the park robbing people. These are young teens and preteens. The older teens break into houses, steal bikes, etc. Plus petty vandalism and basically just running amok. The city is opening curfew centers so kids have a safe place to go. Home isn’t always the better option. If someone’s six year old is roaming the streets at 6 am, there are deep issues to tackle.

  9. K July 10, 2014 at 2:20 pm #

    That should say 2 am.

  10. Dirk July 10, 2014 at 2:22 pm #

    All true Ann of LA. And middle class kids get bored too, but they usually buy their way to entertainment. They are also usually invested in things that occupy their time. People who have something to loose usually don’t rock the boat.

    It is, as Lenore pointed out, people who have nothing else to do that perform destructive acts.

    Look at the crime reports in major cities and see what economic strata dominates.

    That being said news outlets also thought “the punch out game” was a real thing.

  11. ChicagoDad July 10, 2014 at 3:07 pm #

    There is some basic safety common sense that people & kids should employ to help keep themselves out of harm’s way. This is very important in an urban area, but also in the ‘burbs, where bullying, fighting and kid-on-kid theft may go unreported.

    Make sure your kids know the geography well enough to know what areas are appropriate for them to visit, and which ones to avoid. Teach them how to de-escalate and remove themselves from potentially hazardous situations–self defense training often provides this.

    I’ve said this before, but teach kids that if they need help, they should seek out police and tell them everything they can to get to safety. If the police, mall cops or authorities detain them or take them where they don’t want to go, they should politely (but firmly) ask to leave, say nothing else and ask for an attorney if they are not released.

    As for how to deal with the cities’ attitudes toward kids in general, here are some thoughts:
    1) Get them out of town–camping, hiking, kayaking, etc. Once they are out at a state park or nature preserve, they’ll find interesting things to do. Better yet if they can get there on the bus, or by bike.
    2) Encourage them to find ways to volunteer (like Lenore said), for churches, community groups, etc. Ask them to make a commitment for the summer and encourage them to stick with the commitment.
    3) Let them make their own work, be their own boss: mow something, fix something, teach something, babysit someone. One idea: you can get cheap, old bikes at scrap yards and resale shops. Lend the kids some start-up money, tools and space in the garage and let them fix, customize and sell the bikes to friends and neighbors.
    4) Be upfront about the obstacles and limitations to exploring the city. Make sure they understand that they represent “all kids” to some extent (whether that is fair or not) and that they need to be good-will ambassadors for the next generation of kids. And let them explore.
    5) Make sure they know they can ask for stuff. I know adults and college students who are afraid to pick up the phone and ask people for information, access or advice…crazy. If kids want to learn something, see something, or do something, often it is only a phone call away. Is your teenager interested in architecture? They can call a local architect and ask to visit the office or call the local architecture school and ask to visit….
    The world belongs to those who find their own way. Good luck!

  12. J.T. Wenting July 10, 2014 at 3:22 pm #

    it’s a lack of respect for other people and their property, which stems from a lack of parenting and education.

    These teens have been taught by their hippie generation parents and teachers that they’re superspecial, that the world revolves around them, that everything they want is theirs for the taking.
    They’ve never been taught to respect others, that you’re not to tresspass, steal, rape, loot, vandalise things.

    Boredom plays a part, but boredom alone doesn’t turn a child into a mindless looting, vandalising, raping, barbarian.
    I was plenty bored as a child, and still am, but I would never have dreamed of just going out into town and beating someone random senseless until they stop moving, then kicking over some garbage cans and scratching cars on the way home for some extra “entertainment”.
    Yet that’s exactly what “modern teens” do and get away with.

  13. pentamom July 10, 2014 at 3:24 pm #

    Dirk these kids are making trouble at zoos, movie theaters, and an amusement park. These ARE places where kids with money are buying their way in. And they’re abusing the privilege nonetheless.

    Kids with money can get bored with appropriate behavior, too. This is a deeper problem than lack of money.

  14. Havva July 10, 2014 at 3:25 pm #

    This town reminds me of my middle school. Huge problems came simply from the lack of trust. And of course because they didn’t trust us the rules kept escalating over every incident. It got to the point were even the really good kids had to wonder, what was the point of being good if we would be punished regardless of what we did or didn’t do. When we got to high school where the VP of discipline would just call the cops for fights, but we were otherwise free and treated with respect, things suddenly got a heck of a lot better.

    I think, despite the number of youthful trouble makers they have/ have created. They need to declare a fresh start. Then they need to deal with just the trouble makers and not paint troublesome and criminal behavior as inherent to the age group. There needs to be a supervision & mentoring plan for those who aren’t criminal but are troubled. And there needs to be consequences attached only to the criminals for their crimes. And also as Lenore pointed out teens need to be integrated into society, not shut out of it.

  15. pentamom July 10, 2014 at 3:28 pm #

    Exactly, JT Wenting. There’s something deeper here than “nothing better to do.” There’s a reason normal people don’t look at their options for entertainment and include robbery, shooting, serious vandalism, etc. It’s internalized self-regulation, which these kids are old enough to have to at least the degree that keeps normal people from felonious behavior, yet still apparently lack.

  16. E July 10, 2014 at 3:38 pm #

    Are teens/preteens today really being raised by people from the “hippie generation”? I thought that was people who were young adults in the 60s, not people born in the 60s and 70s or even early 80s.

    I’d suggest that there are a lot more factors at work here.

    Anyway – it’s a shame. I’m not familiar with that kind of “roving youth” issue, but I do know that a lovely (very upscale) outdoor mall near us has rules about unsupervised teens after 9pm. There is a movie theater so it’s open very late. Kids would lurk around to hang out socially. I imagine some were drinking (I know kids that got caught doing this). I can understand the developer not wanting that element.

    I do think that a LOT of today’s teen are so desensitized to things because of the inundation of that imagery. They can see it on their phones instantaneously, there are TV shows built around it, etc.

    The idea of outrageous behavior, coupled with the possibility (hope) that it becomes viral (even among their friends) is very tempting for many.

    Even the guy who caught the women stealing his beach canopy felt the need to record it and laughed his way thru it. He had every right to confront them, but he was also “performing” for his own video. Then there was the other one of the ice cream guy getting mugged by teens who ended up hitting him and stealing money — and someone stood there videotaping it.

    I’m sorry I don’t have any answers.

  17. Dirk July 10, 2014 at 3:50 pm #

    Jessica Mattingly would be the only one who can say what is going on in KC. As a NJ resident I can say that from what I see in New York, Trenton, Newark, and Philadelphia middle class kids seem to avoid trouble that isn’t related to them entertaining themselves (meaning parties booze drugs and sex).

  18. Jessica July 10, 2014 at 4:31 pm #

    I agree with Michael F that this is a result of irresponsible parenting. I was a teacher at a low-income school and this same result occured. A few bad apples cause some problems and in reaction new and generally unnecessary rules apply to everyone. The average kid gets punished for the behavior of a few idiots. Why don’t the parents ever get consequences?? I know we can’t control all our child’s behavior, but it is our responsibility to make sure they are at least a decent person. Our community services need to provide both assistance and interventions to these families and give strict consequences for irresponsibility to the parents and children that are ruining it for the rest of us.

  19. E July 10, 2014 at 4:45 pm #

    It’s not always “the parents”.

    One of the kids I know (and he’s now a young 20something still trying to figure things out) was basically a kid that was always in trouble and being punished for his actions. We’ve known him since he was a preteen. He got his driver’s license later than everyone else because of choices he made, he was constantly grounded. But one even at a school function, his name came up between 2 other parents. One said “is it the parents?” and the other one said “yes”. This kid had been punished in one form or another a LOT. We used to carpool with him and my kid was on sports teams with him.

    Now this kid didn’t do any of the things at the level we’re describing here, but he got himself into some stupid stuff. No one seemed to recognize that his brother (raised in the same home by same parents) was a model kid/student/citizen and kept himself out of trouble.

    It’s very tempting and easy to “it’s the parents” but it’s not always true.

    I’ve said it before here…the differences in the teen experience between my parents and me were very small…probably a few TV channels. The differences between me and my children? VASTLY different. I didn’t have to worry about how many times my photo was viewed or liked or whatever. If I wanted to speak to a friend or a boy it was using the phone on the wall. I didn’t overlap or know what the “heads” were doing because I didn’t travel in that circle…now it’s just a few clicks to see how much stuff kids do. I was astounded at how much overlap in peer groups/cliques are now. When my kid went to the movies in HS, I bet there were times that 15 boys went (courtesy of a group message)…when we probably went with 3-4 kids.

    It’s different. And it’s not just the parents.

  20. Kevin July 10, 2014 at 5:53 pm #

    We have a problem in our neighborhood with groups of teenagers roaming in the middle of the night (after 1 or 2am). They smash mailboxes, break into unlocked cars to steal things, smash car windows, egg houses, etc. – not harmless fun. We called the sheriff who basically shrugged and blamed it on the kids being out of school. But I think it’s the parents failing to teach kids not to be bad people. Free Range is about teaching kids to be responsible. This is the opposite, it’s bad, neglectful parenting. It’s setting kids loose without giving them the tools to behave like civilized, decent people.

    I wish a had a good answer to fixing it, it’s not to punish all kids or lock them in their homes, but I wouldn’t mind seeing more consequences for delinquency like this for both the kids and the parents who set them loose.

  21. Steve July 10, 2014 at 6:23 pm #

    Our Country has a serious problem with “not” controlling lawless black teens, which is what Jessica was talking about:

    Single mothers – no matter what race – have a hard time knowing how to parent their kids. The problem is not one of poverty. It’s a lack of education and discipline, and spiritual poverty.

    (We already have free public schools to help a person out of physical poverty. We also have free churches to help a person out of spiritual poverty.)

    On top of that, our government makes it too easy to assume an entitlement mentality with all the give-a-ways. People think they have a right to free housing, free transportation, free food, free cellphones, free medical treatment.

    Personal responsibility is also free … but few want to avail themselves of that freebie that could make their lives a whole lot better.

    Here are a couple of other related reports:

    Do you have Black entitlement syndrome?

    Don’t Raise an Entitled Child

  22. pentamom July 10, 2014 at 6:27 pm #

    Dirk, Jessica *has already told us* what’s going on in KC, and it involves kids getting into trouble in paid venues, at least one of them quite expensive even to set foot in.

    Whatever applicability your theory has to various situations, it really isn’t the kids with no money that she’s talking about *here,* whatever else is true (and I agree that what you say is true of other situations — just quite apparently not this one.)

  23. Donna July 10, 2014 at 7:29 pm #

    Yes, criminality is very closely linked to poverty. This is due to a whole wealth of reasons that have nothing to do with boredom. But poor people are not hanging out at zoos and amusement parks in great numbers. This appears to be a middle class problem.

    With middle class kids (and many of my poor clients in fact) the problem is a combination or boredom, a lack of responsibility and a victim mentality. Kids don’t have to take responsibility for anything. Parents do everything for them and make tons of excuses for them. The fact is that modern society is creating middle class youths who grow up with the exact same mentality as impoverished youths. They manage to avoid some of the more serious problems that poor youth get into due to not growing up in that toxic environment, but they still have the same thought processes now titled “affluenza.”

  24. Havva July 10, 2014 at 10:47 pm #

    There is a real black humor to seeing “What happened to personal responsibility?” Right along side “blame the parents.” I’m sorry I thought we were talking about kids committing crimes, not their parents.

    And while parents do have responsibilities, like making sure a kid is home at a reasonable hour. If the teen then slips out of the house at 1am, I think a lot of competent parents might miss that. If a kid comes and goes according to your rules but does something criminal while out, how do the parents know? Sure you can teach them, and try to know them, but even so some kids go and do the wrong thing even when no one would expect it. And if you are living in a town like Kevin’s. And no one make the effort to catch the kids doing these things, and tell the parents? How are their parents to know and discipline for it?

  25. anonymous mom July 10, 2014 at 11:32 pm #

    I don’t know. There’s a lot of “What’s the matter with kids today?” comments, and frankly the answer is probably “Nothing,” or at least “Nothing new.” Today’s teens, by every measure I’ve seen, are behaving *better* than most of us did as teens, generationally. They aren’t uniquely violent or criminal or empathy-less, and we’re showing our age if we imagine they are. That “today’s teens” are destructive monsters is the song every generation ever has sang.

    If there’s a problem with “roving teens,” I imagine the main culprits are lack of productive things to do–as others have noted–because one change we have seen is that, due to the economy, teen employment is at an all-time low, and a “zero tolerance” attitude that leads to overreacting to teen behaviors that we probably would have tolerated a generation ago.

  26. jessica July 11, 2014 at 12:52 am #

    Thank you all! I am the original writer and it has been quite thought provoking to read the responses.

    I think @Donna captured it with “the problem is a combination or boredom, a lack of responsibility and a victim mentality”. Some of these issues have occurred in shopping/entertainment districts which are free to enter so poverty is often blamed when issues pop up there. The zoo issues have also occurred on our 4/year “free day” – so potentially a poverty connection… but honestly one of the primary recurring factors in this whole situation is the issue of *large* groups — it is as if crowd mentality takes over. So some of these kids it may be poverty, some may be “poor parenting”, some may be boredom, some may be education, etc but the problem erupts when these multifaceted issues (and sometimes no issues) come together. So far as a city we’ve seemed to come up with curfews and midnight basketball.

    @anonymous mom I also wonder how much if it is pearl clutching about “kids today”. I only have my experience as a teen and my experience raising my kids now and so don’t really feel like I have any perspective and am not sure how to get it. What I do know is that right now, socially and legally, we are cracking down on the kids more and more and that is not going to get us anywhere.

    One of the challenges that we run into as a community is the breadth of proximity that comprises our metro. I can start at one side and drive across the city for a good 45min-1hr and still be in the “KC metro”. So it feels lke things such as cleaning up neighborhoods, painting murals, etc would have to be done over and over and over again to really make a significant impact. As others have mentioned making it easier for youth to be employed and employable from a labor law perspective might have a broader reach.

    I will keep checking in and would be more than happy to answer additional questions if it would help clarify responses.

  27. no rest for the weary July 11, 2014 at 1:31 am #

    Meaningful contribution. It’s a primary human need. Kids are suffering for lack of opportunities to contribute in meaningful ways (and no, I don’t mean doing the dishes at home. It would be lovely if that could suffice, but unless there is some horrible health crisis happening at home that requires the kids to step up in huge ways to help their ailing parents, chances are, it won’t light them up).

    It really bugs me when people insist to children, “Your job is school.” Or worse, “Your job is to get good grades at school and do well in sports.”

    Huh? How freaking self-serving is THAT? How about “Your job is to make life more wonderful for others.”

  28. just_a_parent July 11, 2014 at 7:27 am #

    Seems FRK has walked right into a racist hotbed with this racially coded post.

  29. pentamom July 11, 2014 at 9:01 am #

    “racially coded post.”

    Oh, please. Yes, some people are going to have a racially-motivated response to just about anything. But please explain to me, how, imagining there *really is* some scenario where kids are making trouble in public venues in a way that makes those places less hospitable to families and unaccompanied kids (which, I realize, is a completely implausible and fantastic possibility, since kids making trouble anywhere is only ever a racist fantasy), it would be possible to talk about it, if actually talking about kids making trouble is always and only “racial code”?

  30. Dirk July 11, 2014 at 9:38 am #

    The “fight” started between two girls as a shoving match,

    If you watch the interview video you learn that a crowd gathered to watch the girls fight and a bystander dad pulled the girls apart and then security and a few cops (who moonlight as security at the park) dispersed the crowd.

    What is funny is that people are talking about it as this huge thing with arrests. But if you read the original report there were no arrests and it ended quickly. Essentially there was a fight between two young ladies, a local dad broke up the fight, a crowd had gathered and security and a few cops told them to disperse. There wasn’t any actual brawl. It was just two people. What has happened here is bloggers keep escalating the story to wilder heights that aren’t true (saying for example that 8 squad cars and the “paddy wagon” had to be called in! For an incident that had zero arrests? Sure…right…).

    This is the same sort of moral panic that gets stirred up every now and then. Actual crimes repeat themselves over and over again and involve arrests.

  31. Donna July 11, 2014 at 10:35 am #

    anonymous mom – I do believe that the town’s reaction is “pearl clutching” over groups of teens out and about that has been going on for generations.

    That said, I do see differences in teens today. As you mention, large-scale unemployment. The economy is certainly PARTIALLY to blame, but only partially. There is a general lack of interest in teens working among middle/upper class teens and their parents. Most of the parents of teens that I know don’t even want their children to work, so it is not only that teens can’t find jobs.

  32. jessica July 11, 2014 at 3:13 pm #

    @just_a_parent I made every attempt for it not to be that – though we’ve had some issues locally with how things have been discussed and addressed. Honestly I’ve been pleased with the way that the discussion has gone here overall – props to the FRK audience!

    @Dirk reports from some who were there describe the scene much differently and other fights were also reported. The altercation described in the article is a fairly expected regular occurrence during the summer and one of the reasons that I won’t let my young teens stay after dark unless accompanied. The fact that anything made the paper at all means something more than that happened. The PR machine is going in full force.

    Meaningful contribution seems to be one of the big keys – whether compensated or not – has anyone seen/heard of/participated in an effective program in a larger community? It is always so much easier to get movement when 1) you aren’t trying to reinvent the wheel and 2) you have “evidence” that things might actually work.

    And anyone ever have any luck backing communities away from cracking down harder on kids in the meantime? Our mayor (of KC,MO) seems to be particularly found of a “tough love” approach that casts a wide net of guilty until proven innocent.

  33. Warren July 12, 2014 at 9:16 am #

    It all comes down to how kids have been made into infants, by society. They know that there is a very good chance that they will not be personally responsible for their actions. That has to change.

    Had I done any of these things I would have be on house arrest by my parents, and more than likely standing a great deal. The old man could punt a teenage ass the length of a football field.

  34. Erin July 14, 2014 at 12:24 pm #

    I also live in Kansas City and other issues are gun shots and mobs at the zoo, violent flashmobs on the Plaza and other problems that are more than just a fight. I know I’m young (30) and have no kids..but I also work at a casino and there is A LOT of entitlement there..also people who brag about not being responsible. They brag about how many kids with how many mommas, they brag about not paying child support to those mommas, they brag about being kicked out of other casinos and they brag about going to jail.
    I also know St. Louis is worse off with large groups of teens rolling through rush hour traffic, dragging people out of cars and beating them. I feel this pretty much boils down to a lack of respect for others and a lack of responsibility. Until we start teaching those qualities again, it’s just going to get worse.

  35. Casey July 22, 2014 at 3:32 am #

    Wow, interesting topic. I’m another KC resident. The incident at the zoo was quite serious and these type of situations pop up regularly in the metro. Crushing poverty is a huge issue, as is the normalization of violence in our east side neighborhoods. I used to have a job where i frequently dealt with families of young murder victims in KC. No one at home, neighborhoods overrun with (literally) crumbling homes and drug labs. Just because these kids are pour doesn’t mean they can’t get into the amusement park. They need something to do that is productive, but our community has failed in this regard.

  36. jessica July 22, 2014 at 10:49 am #

    So glad to see other KC folks pop up here! I really felt like stricter curfews and midnight basketball where not the answers and appreciate the general paradigm free range kids comes from. My 13 year old has just started a week long YVC day camp. Yesterday and today they are clearing out a vacant lot and putting in a park. She spent a good 5 hours tearing out old construction fencing (along with other projects) and came home hot, tired, and dirty. And excited to go back. Not sure what they will be doing tomorrow – but they were told they only had 2 days to get this done so the time pressure was a little exciting as well!

    It really seems to be a pretty cool organization. I imagine they are doing some type of outreach to various neighborhoods and communities, but I’m wondering if that could be expanded? and wondering if some of our miscreants could be “strongly encouraged” to participate ;-). It seems to be a good structure that is already in place and I’m excited to learn more!