Kids standing around in a circle causes outrage

GWN7 has given Geraldton some more free prime time publicity around the state following a video being posted on Facebook of a group of children standing in a circle at night time. 

Other than standing on the road, the footage shows no illegal activity. 

GWN7 goes on to tie the footage to methamphetamines and Melissa Price's upcoming forum on "Ice". 

While Geraldton Police have noted in the past that there is a problem with crime in Geraldton, no evidence has been put forward to date of meth being a common drug of choice for children and young teenagers. 

It is believed the teenagers gathered in the street after attending what is a regular youth program near the basketball court along the foreshore. 

GWN7 said the video has "so many people angry' and has prompted a "huge response", although they didn't give the number of people who responded negatively. Everything Geraldton counted 22 people with negative comments to the original video. 

Others have criticised the story saying that while crime is certainly a problem, the children in the video are not actually doing anything wrong and don't deserve to bear the brunt of a wider community outrage regarding the massive spike in home burglaries.

While crime is certainly a serious issue, it's unclear if sensationalising non-events actually helps the problem. 

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Are "youth" a problem?

It's nice to simplify problems in life, but the reality is often quite complicated. Certainly more complicated than a 90 second TV news bite can explore.

If any other group of people were labelled as a collective problem the way "youth" are, there would be public outrage.

It's well known most crimes are committed by men. If we were to say there's a "men" problem in Geraldton every bloke who wasn't a criminal would be outraged at such a ridiculous generalisation. If a "male curfew" was demanded by randoms on social media, they would be shot down quickly. Demanding all young people be forbidden from being outside at night time because of a small minority of troubled youth is just as ridiculous. 

But young people can't vote, and they don't have the same public relations skills as older people. So they continue to be bundled together and issues get labelled a "youth" problem. 

I recall reading a letter published in the Geraldton Guardian by a School Teacher from Strathalbyn Christian College who was kept anonymous by the paper, saying this about Geraldton's youth:

"... large proportion of Geraldton's youth decide that it is ok to light stolen cars and entire fields on fire, vandalise everything in their paths, break in to houses as well as train younger relatives to do the same, and throw rocks at people."

The school teacher had recently moved to Geraldton, and had an incident occur in her street that involved a young person and an older person. From that incident and other events she had seen in the news, she extrapolated that Geraldton is dealing with a "large proportion" of youth who behave in this manner. 

In fact, the people with whom this school teacher had a run in were not even from Geraldton, one of the people was a fully grown adult, and both had left town shortly afterwards. The school teacher was well aware of these facts. 

She decided to leave Geraldton, but made sure her anti-Geraldton rhetoric was shared on social media even as she arrived in Queensland. 

But the truth is there's nothing remotely like a "large proportion" of youth who behave like this. It's a tiny minority. Anyone who has worked in youth services would be able to tell you that. 

Most teenagers in Geraldton are struggling with the same things you and I struggled with at that age:
Does that person like me?
I don't fit in
I'm bored
I want to be accepted
I'm tired all the time
I hate school
Theres' so much pressure to succeed
My parents have broken up
What am I going to do when I leave school?
Am I loveable?
I want a good role model

There are plenty of unsung heroes in Geraldton who are willing to role up their sleeves and try and help these young people in any way they can. One group of volunteers attends the foreshore usually on a Thursday night to interact and hang out with some of Geraldton's youth. 

They don't always run their program how I would run it, but I'm sure as heck not going to throw stones at them for at least trying to help. 

Sitting at home on Facebook ranting in the comments about "youth" is one strategy for helping... but perhaps getting out there and letting some of these kids know they're loved and valued might go a little further towards helping them navigate the difficult time that is adolescence.