Take a good, hard look at this video being circulated by the Philadelphia Police Department.
Watch the entire thing and while you’re at it, study the faces of each of the young people you see running into the Walgreens on the 1800 block of South Street on the Fourth of July.
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Stay with me because I need you to look really closely and see if you recognize any of the 60 or so youngsters, especially the ones deliberately knocking cosmetics and other items from store shelves and leaving without paying for merchandise.
And then I need you to do them a favor and turn them in to Philadelphia Police. If you don’t want to do it yourself, get someone who’s willing to step up and do the right thing.
This isn’t about the candy or beverages they swiped from that Walgreens. This is about teaching young adults about something they obviously know little about and that’s that there can be serious consequences for their actions. And I’m not just talking about the police. You can get away with throwing things at some store employees — but not all.
Too many of the youngsters on that video have grown up in overly permissive environments where bad behavior, such as what took place last week, is tolerated. They are allowed to roam around the city freely doing whatever they want. They break the city’s official curfew, and don’t get in trouble for it.
You can tell by their brazenness that no one has been checking them. They haven’t been taught self control or discipline. No one taught them about the dangers of following the crowd. No one drove home the lesson that stealing is morally wrong. That’s why most of the ones grabbing water and snacks didn’t even attempt to conceal their identities.
Teachers, caregivers and clergy may have tried but they failed. That’s why the youngsters on that video allowed themselves to become part of that thieving mob running around South Street on the Fourth of July causing mayhem. That’s why they followed their friends into that drug store and grabbed whatever they could. Members of this group are believed to be some of the same ones viciously assaulting random passersby that night. The video of the attacks are deeply disturbing. I’ve watched repeatedly and can’t figure out why the teens were doing it or why the victims were selected.
It’s not too late for them, or other groups of rowdy teens who have been causing mayhem. At least six police cars were damaged in North Philadelphia July 1 after 600 to 800 teens met up near Sydenham and Jefferson Streets for a cookout advertised on social media. Most were peaceful, just like at Walgreens last week, but others smashed windshields, dented car hoods and ripped mirrors from police cars.
The trouble makers ruin things for everyone.
That’s why if you recognize any of the young people on videos behaving badly, I urge you to do something. Don’t brush it off as kids being kids. This kind of kids-gone-wild behavior is indicative of deeper problems that need to be addressed before the repercussions become more serious than having a juvenile record.
Teach them a lesson. Escort them to the South Detective Division at 2301 S. 24th St. The number is 215-686-3013 or 3014. If you don’t feel comfortable, get a member of the clergy or a block captain to accompany you and your youngster.
Just make sure that your kids get the message and it’s this: This is serious business. Their actions have consequences. It’s time for them to own up to what they have done and to take responsibility for it.
But it has to start with the adults.