Briones: A stop-gap measure

ARE we living in a nanny state?

In the past few months, it seems that local government units, perhaps trying to emulate what the current administration is trying to do and what it had done in Davao City, have been dipping their fingers into matters that in the past were left to the purview of the family.

Take for example, Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña trying to implement a city ordinance that imposes a curfew on minors, basically preventing them from loitering on the streets between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. the next day.

He had threatened to cut the allowances of tanods from the City Government if they failed to enforce the measure.

I know I’ve been tough on tanods, especially those from Sambag 1, for not being able to follow the mayor’s directive, but I realized that the mayor and I are asking them to do the impossible.

First of all, tanods and other authorities have their hands tied behind their backs when it comes to dealing with the under-aged.

The law has made sure of that.

Let’s look at one scenario.

Let’s say the tanods encounter several minors after hours. What then? Ask the minors to drop whatever it is they’re doing and then expect them to tag along to the barangay hall to wait for their parents to fetch them?

That might work if they’re really young like if they’re below 12 years old. Guttersnipes they may be, but in all respects they are still children and most of them still respond to authority.

But what about those undergoing puberty?

Do you still remember what that was like? When almost everything you were told not to do you did to test the limits of your newfound independence? Especially when you thought that the whole world was against you.

Marching orders from people other than your parents would be met with defiance. And I don’t expect that to change with this current generation.

It’s not like the tanods, or the police for that matter, could corral them by force without people from the Commission on Human Rights or some publicity-seeking lawyers crying foul.

I may be the current Grouch-in-residence on Urgello St. but I am torn on this issue.

For one thing, I don’t like to see grownups chase after kids whose only fault is that they’re out late at night. There might be something we don’t know that’s keeping them away from their homes. These kids may be victims of abuse, be it physical, mental or sexual, which might explain why they’d rather hang out with their friends and cause mischief on the streets up to the wee hours of the morning when I know full well they’d rather be tucked up in bed sound asleep with their stomachs full.

But it’s also hard to ignore that some of them have become a menace to society, victimizing passersby, vandalizing properties, stealing…

Now you know the conundrum that I’m in.

I support the curfew for several reasons the main one being that kids don’t belong on the streets, especially late at night. But I know that the curfew is just a stop-gap measure to a problem that needs to be addressed not just by the state or the parents but also by the whole community.

As the proverb reminds us, “it takes a village to raise a child.”
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