PITTSBURG — Recently a viral video allegedly showing violence by a Pittsburg juvenile shook the community. Comments on the story ranged from extremely angry to incredibly sad, posing the question, “what is the solution?”
While it's normal to want justice for the victim, that is obviously best left to the police and court systems. So what is a concerned citizen to do in order to make sure this doesn't happen again?
Professionals say there are not easy answers to the problem of bullying or antisocial behavior.
Members of the community at all levels can make a marked difference, according to stopbullying.gov, a government website which focuses on bullying, and violence in young adults.
Stopping bullying and childhood violence prevention starts at a young age with educating children on how to properly treat each other. According to the site, children need to begin to learn these skills as early as 3. Parents with young children at home can start with some basic steps. First model and praise children for treating others with compassion and care. Setting boundaries and age-appropriate rules about what is allowed is important, as is making sure children are corrected when they step over those boundaries.
Stopbullying.gov recommends, “Young children should be encouraged to say ‘I'm sorry,’ whenever they hurt a peer, even accidentally. The apology should also be paired with an action. For example, young children could help rebuild a knocked over block structure or replace a torn paper or crayons with new ones.”
Parents are often left at a loss, however, when the child involved is not their own. Youth.gov encourages people to reduce violence by being active in their communities. They point to programs like Salina, California’s, ‘Walk For Life’ which has members of the community walking in groups in the late evening hours. The volunteers hand out flyers about local help, call in police if there is an issue, and generally make their positive presence known in rough neighborhoods.
City of Pittsburg Public information officer Sarah Runyon agrees public involvement is a huge factor in deterring violence.
“It’s really important that everyone works together,” Runyon said. “The community can be our eyes, and ears. They are welcome to contact the city, or the police department with any concerns they have.”
Runyon also stressed the city has been working hard to secure many city parks with cameras.
“We’ve installed 40 cameras over the past two years, and will likely install 40 more,” she said
If citizens are concerned about a situation however, they don’t have to wait for something like what happened last week to occur.
“We’re here 24 hours a day, 365 days a year if a member of the community has a concern,” Runyon said. “The community feedback allows us to prevent problems and respond faster when there is one.”
Pittsburg Police Deputy Police Chief Brent Narges agreed.
“By citizens being willing to report things out of the ordinary or suspicious, we have been able to arrest offenders or in some cases, even interrupt crimes in progress or get impaired drivers off the road before an innocent person gets hurt,” he said.
He encourages people to reach out with information, even if they don’t feel comfortable identifying themselves.
“Also, the Pittsburg Police Department has a number that can be called to leave anonymous tips. 231-TIPS.” Narges said
The video, and the community help in identifying the victim and perpetrator, resulted in Crawford County Attorney Michael Gayoso filing formal charges of aggravated battery against the juvenile implicated in the incident.
— Keesha Hervey is a staff writer for the Morning Sun. She can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org