Idle minds lead to trouble for youth

Published 6:00 am Monday, July 28, 2014


HAHNVILLE — Over the years, those involved with law enforcement in St. Charles Parish have learned a simple truth: when it comes to area youth, idle minds cause problems.

With that in mind, St. Charles Sheriff’s Public Information Officer Capt. Patrick Yoes implores parents and guardians to guide their children to stay active during the summer.

“When you look at who tends to get into trouble, in a lot of cases, it comes down to boredom and kids who don’t have anything going on,” Yoes said. “Whether it be recreation ball, camps or even church groups, giving these young people some form of structure with school out can really go a long way toward keeping them out of a bad situation.”

Yoes also asks parents to be conscientious of curfews. According to parish law, any minor under the age of 17 is prohibited to drive or play in parks, playgrounds or other public grounds overnight between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.

“Kids are on summer vacation and when they’re out late, you see people breaking into cars and vandalizing property,” he said. “They’re out without parents to keep an eye on them.”

Another focus of the Sheriff’s Office is on increasing awareness of the proper ways to stay safe during water activities like boating and water sports. Making sure all equipment is functioning properly before embarking out to the water can sometimes be the difference when it comes to suffering a major injury.

“We want to make sure that if you go out there, you’ll be able to come back at the end,” Yoes said.

The Sheriff’s Department, Yoes said, has also been working in conjunction with the Boy Scouts of America, who keep their Kiln, Miss., camp open for an extra week each summer for Operation First Class Sheriff’s Camp. The camp sends area youths ages 12-17 to the camp, which is sponsored annually by sheriffs throughout Southeast Louisiana.

The idea behind the camp is to foster a feeling of trust and promote interaction between the area’s young people and those working with law enforcement.

“We have our officers serve as volunteer chaperones,” Yoes said. “There are crafts, sports, swimming, archery, fireworks. It keeps them occupied. It’s a way to tear down a wall between these kids and law enforcement and reinforce some positive experiences.”

Yoes said that between 70 and 80 youths are likely to participate.

He also suggested parents encourage their children to participate in community service.

“It’s a way for them to pitch in and help the community,” Yoes said. “It helps them feel better about themselves, and it’s just a positive thing for everyone to participate in. It doesn’t have to be 40 hours a week, but set goals.”