Toronto Police Think Walking Home From School Is A Crime
A Canadian mother tells a story that is almost too difficult to believe. A couple of weeks ago, her 12-year-old son was picked up for streetwalking. Two police officers brought her son home just after 6 PM. His crime? The mother’s mind raced. She wondered just what her son had done. Had he talked to prostitutes and pimps? Had he been involved in any crime? Had he thrown a tantrum?
Nope. He was walking down the street, of course!
â€œI just wanted to walk homeâ€ he said dejectedly. â€œHeâ€™s not in any kind of troubleâ€ the first officer said cheerfully. But then more sternly added â€œbut he was walking on the downtown streetsâ€. â€œWe live downtownâ€ I said, becoming confused. â€œWhere is his school?â€ asked the second officer. â€œHeâ€™s in a camp this week, at the Jewish Community Centre – itâ€™s at Spadina and Bloorâ€, I said wondering why two policemen would think a kid was in school in the middle of July. â€œWell maâ€™am, we picked him up at Yonge and Adelaideâ€ he says, looking all strong and concerned. â€œYes, I said, he was walking home, is that a problem?â€. â€œHe was walking…. alone…… downtown……….!!!â€ the officer gritted his teeth at my stupidity and spat out. â€œHeâ€™s 12â€, he added as if this would make it all clear. â€œDo you not see the issueâ€ he spurted? â€œSo are you trying to tell me that because my child was getting exercise, being environmental and increasing his geographical skills, rather than sitting in the basement playing a video game, or hanging out in a mall, or sitting in a fast food restaurant filling his gutty wuts with hydrogenated trans sugar chemical slop, you were worried about him? Do you realize that at 12 he is old enough to babysit?â€ I asked.
The mother thinks of the international students she’s hosted in her home as young as 10 years old. Who flew from a foreign country to go spend time with a family they’d never met. She thinks of some of the horror stories she’s experienced of 12-year-olds having to grow up far too fast in the streets of Greece, Uganda and Honduras.
She writes, rationally, that she’s aware that Toronto is not perfectly safe but that she chooses not to lock her children up in their bedrooms. “Fear and adventure at some point has to be balanced,” she writes, noting the extremely tiny chances any child will be abducted.
She ends her essay by noting:
I looked up at the Police Officer standing in my living room. He looked down at me. Our eyes met and he stated bluntly. â€œI guess we have a different opinion of what is safe eh?â€ â€œYaâ€ I replied. â€œI guess we doâ€.
Indeed. My father navigated city buses alone when he was five years old. And my Godson was taking city buses alone when he was five years old. His parents let him do that in the same city where Jon Benet Ramsey was murdered, too. And he’s now finished college safely. Imagine that.