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This week, we take a look at Asset #13, Neighborhood Boundaries. According to the Search Institute, “Neighbors and friends’ parents help monitor the child’s behavior and provide feedback to the parent(s).”
As we slide into summer, neighborhood boundaries are great assets for our focus. This is an excellent time to plan some neighborhood activities for youth to keep them busy and establish relationships.
A pick-up football game on the street, especially if you’re lucky enough to live on a cul de sac or at the nearest park, is a great idea. This is a chance to involve anyone on the block, especially the fellas who may not have any family nearby. The truth is, the worst they could say is, “No, thanks.”
This is also prime BBQ season, so plan a block party. Have a few neighbors pick a date and do it potluck style.
Don’t make formal invitations, don’t do it inside anyone’s house and then no one has to do any extra cleaning or preparation. The gathering is what will help set boundaries.
Youth see people in the neighborhood you associate with and those relationships can eventually turn into a safety net for the future.
One time some teens were washing their car near my family’s home. The music was blaring and that was just fine. My kids were playing close by when all of a sudden the song dropped the “f” bomb. There was no need to panic, but action had to be swift. I stepped out the door, looked at the teens and said, “Dude.”
That was it; no need to sound the alarm, call the police or a realtor. I just needed to bring their attention to the fact that the particular song choice wasn’t a good one. They changed the tune, crisis averted.
The way to set neighborhood boundaries is to first establish the friendships. When youth witness your demeanor, attitude and values, bad habits may never begin in the first place.
It is usually easy to see a change in behavior when kids enter a new school. When they learn new lingo or associate with different people, they may need to have an attitude or saying checked at the door.
I think youth may need to be given the latitude to act one way with friends and another way at home or in the neighborhood.
I enjoy the fly on the wall scenario.
Have you ever seen a young persons doing something you know isn’t safe, like riding a bike without a helmet while texting? You don’t have to bring every issue to the attention of their parents but just let them know it isn’t a good idea.
Then there’s the other version where you see something taking place that isn’t safe or appropriate, but they don’t see you.
You can always drop a nugget of information to a parent that they can bring up at a good time for a teaching moment. When they have the information at hand without a source, it just reinforces that parents have eyes everywhere.
We as adults occasionally need to do the same thing when an adult isn’t acting properly.
It doesn’t get any easier to drop a hint that behavior isn’t acceptable or if someone has taken something too far. The truth is that it is easier to educate someone young who just doesn’t have the life experience to know if something is wrong.
Please continue to submit your Asset Builders of the week. The forms are available by dropping me an e-mail at AssetsIn Action@att.net. This column will run all summer and your comments are welcome. You can also check out the AssetsInAction booth during Chamberfest, June 13, located downtown. AssetsInAction is sponsored by the Juvenile Justice Advisory Board and the Los Alamos Chamber of Commerce. You can also hear Assets In Action programming on AM 1490, KRSN, Mondays from 9-10am.