It’s a pretty normal after something goes wrong in the world of kids and young adults to ask “Where are the parents!?” Is it a fair question to ask in the case of Clark “Clarky” Stevenson, the 15 year old boy who was stabbed so severely at 2:30am out in the streets of Winnipeg that he later died? Is it fair to ask why a 15 year old kid, and his young attackers were out roaming the streets of Winnipeg at such an ungodly hour? Where exactly were the parents? Did the parents know these kids were out, and what kind of mischief they were up to? Something has gone terribly wrong here, but what is it?
According to an interview with the CBC “Jenna Wirch, a friend of Clark Stevenson's, said she believes a lack of funding for youth programs has failed him and other troubled young people.”? Sniff, sniff. Do you smell that? You’re right. It does appear to be the smell of a scape goat! It is fair to say that Clarke lived in a rough ‘hood. Are community programs important? Yes. Is a 15 year old kid not being out on the streets at night important? Yes! Can a program keep a kid at home late at night so he isn’t roaming the streets getting stabbed? Good question, no? So, how much responsibility should be on the parent’s shoulders and how much goes to the community? It seems that the job of keeping a kid at home falls squarely on the shoulders of the parents. If they don’t take responsibility, what can be done? Does the city have to step in with curfews for young kids to prevent them being out on the streets stabbing one another at 2:30am? If so, won’t that further move funds away from programs and into policing? And, then does it not, by default, put the responsibility of parenting on to the shoulders of the city?
Now, let’s rewind for a moment to earlier in the summer when riots broke out in London. Although initially being sparked by the shooting of young man by police, before long areas of that city were torn apart by what appeared to be absolute senseless violence, looting and vandalism. The same story was used to explain what had happened there as in the Clarke case, when some said that the riots are the result of drastic cutbacks to community programing in low income areas which have left a generation disenfranchised, living without direction and, in many cases, bored. But, the question was raised over and over again, by the media, police and the community, “Where were the parents?” Why were kids, some of them very young, able to be out on the streets at late hours taking part in such serious crimes? Who is in charge of keeping kids in, where they will be safe? Were there no parents wondering “Where is my son tonight, and why does he suddenly have a large screen TV in his room?”? Police took to the airwaves, asking parents to step in and keep their kids at home. And it seemed like a reasonable request.
So, here we have what seems to be senseless violence happening in two parts of the world with the same reasoning given for both. Lack of community programming is being blamed and the “Where are the parents?” question is being asked. Is it fair to say that both have validity? Yes. The community as a whole does have to look at what it can do to help areas of the city where there are issues with poverty, gangs, violence and drugs. But, ultimately, a community and community programs can only do so much. Family and friends are in mourning, and it’s a tough time to be asking questions, but, it really does have to be asked. Could this tragedy have been prevented simply by someone, a parent, a guardian, an aunt and uncle, or whoever, making sure that 15 year old Clarke Stevenson was in his bed at 2:30am instead of out in the streets fighting?
UPDATE: So, today, it appears that an arrest has been made. They have charged a 14 year old boy with the 2nd degree murder of Clark Stevenson. How on earth does this happen? Where the heck are the parents of THIS kid?! How is a 14 year old kid able to be out on the streets of Winnipeg at 2:30 in the morning, with a knife, stabbing another kid?? It makes no sense to me. Something needs to change. But what?