13 April 2010

Anti-social behaviour

I came home early from work yesterday, after having finished whatever it was that I was supposed to be doing. Something related to French or something. Anyway, I made my way back, riding through the park right next to our house. Yoko and the girls were playing so I stopped to see what was  up. There were a couple of teenagers, playing football, and kicking it in the kids play area. Not especially reckless, but it was becoming more and more clear that they were not regarding any of the kids on the playground. So I tried to stop one of them and say, 'Could you not play around the kids?' and didn't get an answer, I said it a couple of times and finally said, 'Can you hear me?' and they just went on ignoring me. I don't know why this was: if it was my accent, or he was being an asshole, or what. But it was weird. Certainly some class issues at play too, I imagine.

At this point, one of the kids pulled a shopping trolley out of the bushes and was running around with it, finally picking it up and throwing it back into the bushes. There was a girl there who I had seen with this guy before: she's always watching like a flock of little kids, but she couldn't be more than 16 herself. She was yelling loudly and smoking too. Finally, the wife and kids and I all just went back to the house.

I was frustrated by it, especially because the Naomi and Mei couldn't play, so I decided to call the police to see what they might do.  Surprisingly, this is a priority for them and they sent officers to the park. In England, you can report 'anti-social behaviour' which basically is anything like what these kids were doing and the cops will go talk to them. They called me back in like an hour and half to say that when they got there, the kids were gone, but that I should keep calling the police whenever it happened.

I don't know how I feel about calling the police in this instance. In the States, I don't think you would — you would solve the problem yourself. Maybe not, I don't know. Maybe this relates to my political leanings, but I see the police as an extension of myself and my community, much like I see the government. It is better to have someone stand between me and those kids, for my own safety and their's, frankly. I get pretty angry pretty quickly in these situations and the adrenaline starts going... It's not a good thing. But the police are just there to do what the community wants and needs. They are the community. I feel the same way about the ideal government: it is simply us, the community, doing what we need to do to sustain ourselves. So stay the hell away from my kids, you damn teenagers.

Finally, this reminded also me of my time as a teenager in parks, not wearing shoes, swinging on swings, laying in the grass, etc. I hope I was never threatening to anyone. I don't think I was... I want to think I was more Walt Whitman than Holden Caulfield.