GUIZERIX: It’s 10 p.m. Do you know where your children are?

Published 4:00 am Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Although it’s a little out of my age range, I’ve heard time and again references to a late 20th-century public service announcement that asks parents an important question.

“It’s 10 p.m. Do you know where your children are?”

The tagline was first used in the 1960s and was a regular fixture nationwide throughout the 1980s. In Vicksburg, it seems like it’s time to ask ourselves that question again.

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During Monday’s community forum with the Vicksburg Police Department, Sgt. Nicholas Carson spoke about a recent spike in auto burglaries committed by juveniles. The issue, as he described it, is two- (or three- or four-) fold.

For one, in the spirit of proactivity, Carson advised residents to keep their cars locked at all times. He also gave the standard advice to refrain from leaving firearms in your vehicle. This advice should be common sense. It is part of being a responsible gun owner.

But alas, guns being left in vehicles and subsequently stolen is common in our area, and common sense is not common.

As juveniles experiment in criminal activity, it’s safe to assume any weapon left in one’s vehicle can and will be stolen and, as Carson put it, will contribute to the city’s crime statistics in one way or another. Carson attributed the rise in crime to social media influences, exposure to violence and lack of positive role models at home and school.

“We’re losing some (children) to the streets,” he said.

That’s where the age-old slogan comes in. Do you know where your children are?

For a variety of reasons, from lack of a developed pre-frontal cortex to simple responsibility, adults in every child’s life need to be guiding lights. We need to hold children accountable, allow them to face consequences for their mistakes and, above all else, train them up in the way they should go.

That means following the example set forth by the City of Vicksburg and adhering to the youth curfew (10 p.m. on weekdays and midnight on weekends). That means encouraging our children to participate in programs and activities that enrich their lives, be it a church group or sports team. It means playing an active role in your child’s life and shielding them from people who are bad influences.

No one said the task would be easy — the issues surrounding Vicksburg’s at-risk youth are not easy problems to fix — but it’s worth saving our community in the long run.

Children as young as 12 years old are being caught up to no good at 2 and 3 a.m., not accompanied by a responsible adult. Consistent curfew violations do result in a parent citation, along with the juvenile being charged appropriately for any crimes they might’ve committed.

The Vicksburg Police Department is doing what it can to patrol troubled areas and deter juvenile crime, but it’s not their job to play mother and father.

Vicksburg’s public needs to do its part to work with community organizations and children themselves to improve the quality of life for young people in our city. At-risk youth become risky adults; we can work together to reach them before it’s too late.