When I was 13, I was into…well, I don’t mostly remember. I was an Eagle Scout at that age, so I was still involved in Boy Scouts, but I couldn’t tell you what else I might have been into besides checking out girls who weren’t interested in me and watching TV. About the last thing I was thinking about was how to become a hardened criminal.
Most kids these days probably aren’t that much different than I was at their age. Sure, they’re probably more into YouTube and videogames than I was, they’re generally not looking to become felons.
That’s not universally true, apparently.
Three teens approached the two women at a Lexington Street residence in Hamden while one of the teens held the above object Saturday around 12:30 a.m.
The teen pointing the object demanded the women’s belongings, according to Hamden police spokesperson Capt. Ronald Smith. The teens made off with a pocketbook.
“Moments later,” Smith wrote in a release, “Officer Luis Rivera observed three teenaged males running through yards on Bradley Avenue. Officer Rivera located one of the males hiding in a backyard, under a stairway.”
That person, who is 13 years old, was holding the object — which looked like a Sig Sauer firearm. It in fact turned out to be a facsimile bb gun.
Whether the gun is real or not, that’s armed robbery.
What’s most troubling, though, is that parents aren’t paying attention to their children and where they may be carrying their realistic-looking air guns.
Right now, a lot of people are invoking the names of black people killed by police, regardless of the circumstances. One of those names mentioned from time to time is Tamir Rice. Rice was 12-years-old when he was shot by police over what turned out to be a realistic-looking air gun. It was a horrible situation, to be sure.
Many think the police need more training to determine if a gun is real or not, but that’s not practical. A better option is to pay attention to what your freaking kids are doing so they don’t end up getting shot over stupid crap.
Luckily, this teen wasn’t gunned down. Instead, he committed armed robbery and will face charges for that. He could well have ruined his life. Or, if one of those women were armed, it could have ended his life.
Children need supervision. Some require less than others, to be sure, but they all require at least some. Clearly, this boy needs much more than he got.
Otherwise, this story could have read quite differently. We could be talking about how the officer didn’t have a choice, how you can’t determine if it’s real or not in the split second you have to make a decision.
Some will try to put this on the companies that make these guns, but the responsibility has to rest with the parents. It’s up to them to monitor what their kids are doing and what they’re into.
What happened above is far from the worst-case scenario, thankfully. Without parents keeping an eye on what their kids are doing, though, it could easily have become just that.