Yesterday morning I was walking my dog when 4 kids came down the street, the actual street, four across. The oldest, a boy, probably about 12 shouted out, “We got kicked out of the Boys and Girls Club.” This made no sense at 9:00 am. Really? Does the Boys and Girls Club really kick kids out?
I mean I know they do kick troublesome kids. I asked the kids, “Why?” The oldest boy said that their parents did not pay for them to be there earlier in the day. “We were told to go outside or go to the park.” I said that I did not believe them. I told them to go back to the club and at least call their parents. They started walking away from me. I realized I should probably escort them.
So, I followed them, they went way faster than I could, to the Boys and Girls club two blocks away. I went inside and asked the young woman, early 20’s I’d guess, why they were kicked out. She confirmed their parents had not paid for them to be in the building that early in the day. I asked her if she had called their parents. The oldest boy and youngest girl were brother and sister. The middle boy and girl were also brother and sister and they were supposedly cousins. I asked the kids if their parents were at home or work. The kids didn’t seem to know for sure. It was very clear the personnel at the Boys and Girls Club knew who these kids were and were willing to allow them in after lunch. So, if they are dropped off at the club before their paid time, why didn’t the club call their parents immediately to return and reclaim their kids? How is sending their children, unsupervised out on the streets of the city with no money, cell phone, method of finding help or getting home a viable alternative?
So, I called the police. The officer was very calm, though, I was quite upset and confused at this turn of events. The officer explained that the government cannot tell a non-profit, non-governmental organization how to behave. I do understand that. However, didn’t the club have a duty to at least call the kids parents instead of first putting the kids out the door? I had to leave. I know the officer was still there after I left. Maybe he called in Child Protective Services. I can only hope. At the very least the parents should be held accountable. They should know what they paid for and not have just left it to someone else to put their kids out on the street. If the parents (FOUR or more, if you include steps, grands, aunts,…) were so irresponsible as to drop their kids off knowing they wouldn’t be accepted. Then, I suppose in the parents/guardians minds if anything went wrong they could blame the club for kicking the kids out without any supervision. However, even if this were not the case that the club didn’t call the parents/guardians before kicking the kids out is unconscionable. That ought to be action 1. Then, keep the kids on a bench in the lobby. Let the kids in and charge the parents. If the parents do not pay the additional fee, then, the club has the option to end their relationship with them. In any event the club, it seems, has the responsibility to call Child Protective Services. Which, I hope is what the police officer ultimately did. I was so mad.
What really pissed me off is when I was in the club office I had to ask the kids where their parents were. The kids didn’t seem to know. Since it was clear the club DID know this information should all have been on file. But, the woman behind the desk became upset with me for asking the kids about where their parents were, be it home or work. She said, “I cannot have you asking these kids about private information. You will have to leave the premises.” Really? This woman actually had the gall to order those kids out of the building and on to the street and tell them to “hang out in the park”. This only days after the disappearance of 7 year-old Kyron Horman from his own school.
At least, I did what should have been done. I made the kids go back to someplace safe. Even if that safe place was uncaring and so unsafe. I know without a doubt I tried to do the very best thing. Including, calling the police. I just hope the police were able to follow through in a manner I was not privy to.