September 6, 2012Remember all the stupid stuff you used to do when you were a kid? Well, I don't. Namely because I did so many stupid things. My memory can only be expected to remember just so much. Out of all the mindless, ridiculous things I've attempted or successfully carried out in my youth, being destructive to others was never on the list.
In recent weeks there has been a significant rise in mailbox vandalism. From the accounts I've gotten from victims, it appears the mailboxes are being damaged by a baseball bat swung from a moving vehicle. Sounds great doesn't it? No? Well, you must not be a thoughtless dolt. Like I said, my teenage years were filled with some of the dumbest, and often dangerous, acts imaginable by an intelligent individual - but they never resulted in the burden of someone else (except maybe my mother).
I was able to speak with a couple of Madison County residents who fell victim to this mailbox vandalism. Both had dealt with the issue on multiple occasions, both were somewhat advanced in their years and both were forced to replace their mailboxes using their own hard earned money. I'm not sure if these types of crimes are the type where perpetrators return to inspect the aftermath, but if they are - I do hope it's a bit disheartening for the offenders to watch a stranger near the age of their grandparents pick up the broken pieces of their mailbox before reinstalling a new one in 100+ degree heat. What's more, though the young folks responsible for these crimes are probably not carrying out these crimes on their own grandparents and family members - they are, undoubtedly, carrying them out on the grandparents and family members of their peers.
Now, you may be asking yourself why I'm so quick to blame teenagers. To that, I'd ask you to consider a small list of things. Firstly, if while reading this you are over the age of 21, I ask - Since reaching adulthood, how many times have you piled into a vehicle with friends, driven down a road at night and smashed a mailbox with a baseball bat? Secondly, How many times have you ever heard of an adult taking part in such an activity and third, I have it on good authority that these crimes aren't being carried out by adults. I'll have more on that last one in an upcoming article in the next edition of The Madison County Record.
Whether or not they get caught by police, most of us will never know who the kids responsible for the recent vandalism are because they're juveniles. The law specifically protects that information because, well...kids are prone to making a few mistakes along the way that don't necessarily need to stick with them throughout their lives. Making mistakes is a part of life, and that doesn't mean it should be blamed on bad parenting either. I've never had anything but positive adult role models watching over me throughout my life - yet I still broke my left arm in a particularly competitive shopping cart slalom in the alley behind my place of employment at the age of 16. That was just as ridiculous a sentence to have to type in my 30s as it was a recreational activity in my teens, but what it wasn't was destructive to anyone other than myself...and possibly my parents' insurance premiums.
I have a pretty strong notion that there probably won't be many teenagers that will read this BLOG. There will be a few adults though, and maybe you can pass some of the sentiment of it on to a teen or two in your life. Within reason, doing dumb things and making mistakes is okay - but going out of your way to do harm or cause problems for others is just thoughtless. Even if they're strangers and what you're doing seems innocent enough - if it hurts someone else, what does that say about you?
All that said, I would also like to point out that I do not advocate shopping cart slaloms as a replacement activity. Trust me, it's really not as fun as it sounds, and broken arms are exactly as fun as they sound.