A hundred-thousand dollars of damage, and it was “something to do.” I’m talking about the vandalism at Sacajewea Middle School last weekend. I don’t know what happened in that kid’s life that made him do something like that, but I am sorry for him.
When discussion about his sentence came up in my family, my first thought was “Treat him like an adult. Give him 30 years in prison!”
I was wrong. Thirty years in prison is not what he needs. That boy needs counseling. He needs someone to care for him and someone he can talk to.
It was a rather interesting way for the boy to handle his boredom. But normal people don’t say to themselves, “Gee, I’m bored. I think I’ll go rob a bank or vandalize a school. I have nothing better to do.”
Kids and adults like that usually have had a hard, troubled life. Their parents didn’t pay attention to them, or even worse, abused them. Generally, people are shocked when someone commits a violent crime and they want to “throw ‘em in jail and swallow the key.”
Violence is not the answer, but some people never had a good enough upbringing to know that. They never learned any way to keep themselves busy or to handle their anger.
The trick to staying out of trouble, I’ve learned, is to stay busy. I am involved with music. I go to morning marching band practices at 7:45 to prepare for the Junior Lilac and Richland Summer Fun Days parades. I go to school from 8:45 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. I come home and do my homework, which takes about two hours, and go to a community band practice or piano or clarinet lesson. I enjoy going to these practices and lessons. Music is a special part of my life. And, I don’t have time to cause trouble.
I hope the boy responsible for the vandalism is punished, yes, but not locked away. He should get counseling, learn how to control his anger, do some community service, go back to school - anything to keep him busy.
If you know anyone who is violent like that, try to help. Involve that person in a club or take him or her to a party. Take them bowling, fishing or teach them to play an instrument. Teach them how to constructively use their time. If that doesn’t work, suggest they get some help from a psychiatrist.
I’m not an expert, but that is the best way I know of to stay out of trouble. Without this help, that person could become violent. We have enough “interesting” people in the world. We don’t need a few more.
MEMO: Your Turn is a feature of the Wednesday and Saturday Opinion pages. To submit a Your Turn column for consideration, contact Rebecca Nappi at 459-5496 or Doug Floyd at 459-5466 or write Your Turn, The Spokesman-Review, P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210-1615.