Kugluktuk police set curfew on kids
“There’s no reason why nine or 10 year-olds should be out at three o’clock at night”
In Kugluktuk, kids under 14 will have to be home by 10 p.m. or their parents may be fined.
“There’s no reason why nine- or 10-year-olds should be out at three o’clock at night,” said RCMP Cpl. Franco Radeschi.
The RCMP and the community’s by-law officer plan to enforce an existing municipal curfew by-law because gangs of young kids have been wreaking havoc at night.
This month, the Kakayak Daycare, pre-school, radio society building and high school were all targets of youth vandalism.
When daycare staff arrived for work on May 5, they found the premises had been ransacked. It took three days to clean up the damage, which included a mess from a chemical fire extinguisher that had been sprayed over the walls and floors.
This month, kids also left graffiti on the pre-school door, and, in another incident, pried open the radio studio’s door with a shovel and damaged furnishings inside, forcing open filing cabinets with the same shovel.
A group of kids was scared off from the high school when an alarm went off as they were trying to break in.
Another youth set fire to a garbage box with paper. One gang wrote all over a vehicle with markers.
Police say kids, in gangs of 10 to 30, are causing the problems, and usually, the same kids.
“The majority of the kids are law-abiding,” Cpl Radeschi said. “It’s a small percentage who aren’t, but enough that causes problems for everyone.”
The winter’s wave of vandalism involved mainly youth from 14 to 17. Now younger kids are causing mayhem.
“A lot of them lately have been 9 to 11, or just under 12,” Radeschi said.
“We can’t criminally charge them when they’re under 12 so we have to look for alternate means. Our hands are tied.”
Police want the cooperation of parents to make sure the curfew is respected.
But, judging from the number of intoxicated adults police deal with every week, – 52 during one week this month – many parents have troubles of their own.
In one incident, an elder was assaulted by his adult child, who was intoxicated at the time.
On a weeknight earlier this month, police were called to check on a complaint about noise from a loud party. Inside, they found several children with a babysitter, while their parents and friends were drunk and fighting amongst themselves.
Police called social services to deal with one set of parents who had made no arrangements to have their children cared for while they were at the party.
“If you’re going to drink, please make prior arrangements to have your children cared for and don’t return home until you’re sober,” was the message police included in one of their weekly newsletters to the community.
Radeschi said the community’s resources have been taxed by dealing with troubled youth. Now, instead of two by-law officers, there is only one. He said the kids know that and take advantage of the situation.
That’s why police will now assist the community’s sole remaining by-law officer, by bringing kids under 14 back home if they find them out after 10 p.m.
“If one of the ways is to be a little tighter and stricter, we will,” Cpl. Radeschi said.