Discipline begins at home

Published 5:45 pm Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Last week, the Ahoskie Police Department made two arrests in connection with the Aug. 12 break-in and larceny at EZ Page on Main Street.

Facebook lit-up with comments, pro and con, about the arrests. Some praised the APD for a job well done; others claimed the officers arrested the wrong individuals.

The latter will be sorted out as the case moves forward judicially.

But what was the most disturbing issue with this particular crime is the allegation that a 14-year-old was involved. Juveniles are actually not arrested. When a juvenile is alleged to have been involved in criminal activity in North Carolina, a court counselor becomes involved. They view the police report, ask a lot of questions, and then uses their finding to decide whether to file the complaint as a petition with the court and what recommendations to make to the judge for disposition of the case.

This crime was reported to have occurred at 2:27 a.m. on a Sunday night/Monday morning. My question is why is a 14-year-old on the streets of Ahoskie at that time?

Ahoskie does have a juvenile curfew on the books (Town Code 46-33). The purpose of the ordinance is to “protect juveniles from victimization and exposure to criminal activity by establishing a curfew for juveniles under the age of 18 years in the town.”

The code defines a juvenile as “a person who has not reached [their] 18th birthday and is not married, emancipated, or a member of the Armed Services of the United States.”

The curfew is in effect seven days a week between the hours of 12 midnight and 6 a.m.

The code explains that a juvenile commits an offense by being present in or remaining in any public place or on the premises of any establishment within the town during the restricted hours.

There are exceptions to that rule to include that the juvenile is employed and heading home during the restrictive hours; likewise going home following an official school, religious, or recreational activity that is supervised by adults and sponsored by a public or private school, the town or other governmental entity, a civic organization, or another similar entity that accepts responsibility for the juvenile.

There’s also an exception if the juvenile is in the custody of their parents or guardians; or if they are performing an emergency errand for their parents or guardians.

And speaking or parents/guardians, this particular town code contains provisions for them as well as it states that “a parent, guardian or custodian of a juvenile commits an offense if [they] knowingly permit, or by insufficient control, allow the juvenile to remain in any public place or on the premises of any establishment within the town during the restricted hours. The term “knowingly” includes knowledge that a parent should reasonably be expected to have concerning the whereabouts of a juvenile in that parent’s legal custody.

Now, we all know “kids are going to be kids.” They, especially during the summer months while not in school, may slip out of their homes to meet up with their friends without any criminal intent in mind. Still, this doesn’t let either the juvenile nor their parents/guardians off the hook.

All parties need to understand the rule of law here and must accept responsibility if they are found in violation.

The intent of this code is to protect the safety of those under age 18. Shouldn’t that same intent be found within the homes of these young people? Discipline needs to start at home.

My advice to parents is don’t allow the police and the courts to dole out punishment for your child’s behavior. You’re the adult here….you set the household rules and the expectations of punishment should those rules be broken. And, most importantly, set a good example for your children to follow instead of mouthing off profanity – to include dropping the “F-Bomb” – on Facebook.

Cal Bryant is the Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact him at cal.bryant@r-cnews.com or 252-332-7207.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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