Ending night time sporting events is not the solution to curb youth violence in Memphis

By: Darrell Castle

This past Friday after a high school football game at Central High School in Memphis, a mob of teens ran the streets, damaging cars and attacking innocent people.

This sparked a proposal by Mayor AC Wharton – stop having Friday night football games and instead move them to the day time either on Friday or Saturday.

I understand the mayor’s struggles and he’s had a lot to deal with this year – it’s an impossible job right now. But, this seems to be a cowardly solution (not really a solution at all) instead of confronting the problem head on. Friday night lights is a tradition, and these problems are relatively new.

The youth violence issue definitely needs to be confronted, and soon. My fear is that if something isn’t done soon, these teenagers are going to attack someone who’s carrying and will kill them when attacked.

Mayor Wharton has to gear himself up to face the families of these teenagers when he starts taking action against them, but that’s better than facing these families at funerals.

Shelby County Schools Superintendent, Dorsey Hopson, who Mayor Wharton met with regarding the issue, says these youth violence issues stem from a serious poverty problem in the city that needs to be addressed.

If it needs to be addressed, then why hasn’t it already been addressed? I doubt this has anything to do with it.

Maybe Hopson was pointing at a parenting issue – or lack of parenting – when he mentioned poverty. Where have the parents of these teenagers been?

I played high school football. After games, everyone went to the Tasty Freeze for some ice cream and Coke. If we would have done anything like what these teenagers are doing, our parents would have punished us, and I’ll hold the details. But the last thing we wanted to do was embarrass our parents and face that punishment. Where is that accountability now?

And where is the accountability in the justice system? It’s too difficult to arrest these kids. Policies need to be changed to make it easier. Issuing a juvenile summons is a joke to these teens and a waste of time. This tells them there are no consequences to their actions.

I’m a big believer in personal responsibility, and these teens need to be made believers in it too.

It’s a sad time. I hate to see the leaders basically say they can’t stop youth violence, so instead they try to do something to stop the damage from being so great – and this still wouldn’t be the solution to THAT.

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