OUR OPINION: Youth curfew enforces accountability for teen lives

Published 4:00 am Friday, February 3, 2023

The Monday night murder of 13-year-old Carleone Woodland left our whole community in shock, with a multitude of unanswered questions.

Why were teenagers ranging from 13 to 19 out in the street at almost midnight on a Monday? How did at least three of those present obtain firearms?

Why was one of the suspects, previously arrested for armed robbery, walking free? If he’d been in jail and hadn’t posted bond, would Woodland still be alive?

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Perhaps the most important question to ask is this: Where were their parents?

There are so many unknowns that remain, and likely will until those charged with Woodland’s murder and the shooting of two other children go to trial.

Thankfully, one city leader acted swiftly to send a message to the city’s youth and the adults who are supposed to be responsible for them. Moments after the story broke on Tuesday morning, Mayor George Flaggs Jr. issued an emergency proclamation announcing the reinstatement of the city’s youth curfew.

Stating specifically that the curfew is a crime-preventative measure, Flaggs labeled the homicide “senseless.”

It’s a term with which many would agree. The youth curfew, in effect from 10 p.m. until 6 a.m. until further notice, provides a boundary for children who might not have one otherwise.

To borrow from a colloquial phrase, the city of Vicksburg is “acting as Mama and Daddy,” for Vicksburg’s at-risk youth.

At some point, parents, guardians and “grown-ups” have stopped doing the work necessary to protect our children from turning to a life of crime. We’ve neglected the already underserved and provided plenty of openings for bad influences to infiltrate young minds.

Blame it on social media, cell phones, violence in film and TV, poor home lives or what have you. The point is, children put their own lives and the lives of others in immediate danger because they aren’t told often enough what a precious gift life truly is.

It is sickening that a child of only 13 years old, who should be at school right now, had his life snuffed out so prematurely.

It is equally as sickening that this child’s life was taken by a group of peers — children themselves, whose freedom has now been cut short due to their actions Monday night.

Thanks are due to Mayor Flaggs for the reinstatement of the city’s youth curfew and to the Vicksburg Police Department for enforcing the measure.

There’s no way to know when tragedy will strike but, hopefully, the order will save others from a similar fate.