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What’s a teen going to do?

Lately I have been reading various articles and/or letters to the forum

concerning our island’s teenage night life and the safety of our young adults

when it comes to the weekends.

All of the information published seemed to

follow the same track: Parents are concerned for their children’s well being

while going out at night; the “parties” held by teens on public and private

property are hosts for gang bangs, drugs and other illegal wrong doings; and

the Kaua’i Police Department wants to crack down on these social gatherings and

they need our community’s help in doing so.

But one thing caught my eye as

I read these letters and articles and that is that none of them were written by

a teenager.

As an average teenager on this remote island, I know first

hand how frustrating it is to grow up here. When you have seen all six movies

being played at our two theaters, spent too much time at the bowling alley,

over used your VCR with movie rentals, and overstayed your welcome at Borders,

you begin to lose your sanity!

What is our remedy to this instant boredom?

Teenagers, being social people, choose to gather together at a designated

location and spend the night dancing to music, catching up with friends, and

spend a few hours enjoying our independence from our parents.

But as we’ve

witnessed, Kaua’i’s community and the law enforcement agencies are not quick to

grant us this right to independence. As a result, Kaua’i’s young adults are

forced to either stay home, try to “outsmart” KPD and gather in some

out-of-the-way location, or go basically insane from boredom!

Two incidents

immediately come to mind when the terra “party” is used. The first is the

birthday party held Jan. 23, behind Wailua Golf Course, where 500 teenagers

gathered and two KPD officers were injured while breaking it up.

As the

two officers attempted to get the crowd to disperse, five people reacted and

threw bottles at them. Since that incident, KPD has been out in full force,

patrolling every possible party site, blocking off access to certain places

before curfew, asking people to disperse as soon as a small crowd forms, and

letting us know that they will not tolerate that kind of disrespect.

Don’t

misunderstand me, the reactions of those people were not well thought out and

the two officers should have never been injured, but our community is punishing

all of the teenagers on this island for the actions taken by five people!

I understand the point that our law enforcement agencies are trying to express,

but is it fair to hold the rest of us accountable for the actions of five

people?

The second incident occurred on Friday, Feb. 25, at Spaldings

Monument in Kealia. Three people were injured in what one radio station

referred to as a “gang bang.”

Once again our community was shocked and

fearful of what our island was becoming. And once again, as teenagers, we were

faced with the reality that unless we prove our responsibility and regain our

trust with the community, our weekends were not going to amount to

much.

Both of the above incidents are tragic and embarrassing, but those

are only two of the countless gatherings held on this island. What about every

other weekend when teenagers gather to dance and socialize and everyone goes

home safe and happy?

I have never seen an article about that. No one calls

the radio station the morning after a great party to report that everyone is

safe and the cops were never called.

Our community is only seeing one side

of this picture, and that side is not fairly representing our case.

On a

positive note, the past couple of weekends have been significantly better than

others thanks to non-profit organizations like the Hawai’i Children’s Theatre

Group, S.H.O.U.T, and The American Lung Association who have hosted teen dances

at places like Guilligan’s and Whaler’s Brew Pub. But what happens when these

dances stop?

I understand the concerns of our community, but does the

community understand us as well? It is not fair to deny our remedy to the lack

of teenage activities on this island and leave us to fend for ourselves.

In the Jan. 27 addition of The Garden Island, Police Chief George Frietas

said, “Grant monies could be available to assemble another task force to tackle

the problem,” meaning these parties. If this is so, instead of forming a task

force to break up teenage gatherings, we should form one to generate social

activities that are fun and abide by the law.

I challenge you, the

community of Kaua’i— implement an alternative, and see the respect you gain

from our youth!

Brooke Connolly

Kapa’a

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