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FOULDS: Common sense isn't so common these days

We as a society continue to enable and treat everyone like a victim and watch as any semblance of personal responsibility is thrown out the window
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In the video, the three youths — two boys and a girl — are walking through the gate and onto the pickleball court, swearing, laughing and generally intimidating the older players.

They knock over a garbage can and trash-talk pickleball pro Brent Forsythe, with one kid pulling his shirt over his face and approaching the camera, spouting nonsense.

Off camera, the two male youths were spewing racist epithets, using the N-word and forcing a group of Indo-Canadian pickleball players to leave the Riverside Park courts.

A player with Forsythe’s group decided he, too, had to leave — lest he regret doing something to the trio. The teens are between the ages of 13 and 16, but look smaller and younger.

This particular pimple posse is well known on both sides of the river, according to those who have encountered the terrible threesome as they create havoc downtown and in North Kamloops.

“My point of posting that was really just to bring awareness,” Forsythe said, noting this specific group of teens has been harassing people in the park at least three times, to his knowledge.

“I mean, between that and, obviously, the homeless issue and things like that, it’s just like, I don’t know what’s happening to this city, but I see it like, you know, not going up, that’s for sure.”

After Forsythe posted the video to his Facebook page, he said the mothers of two of the kids contacted him.

They were embarrassed. They apologized.

One mom explained she had been trying to get her son to come home, but he was on the streets, running wild — breaking windows, harassing people, skipping school.

She could not get him to stay home. There are other issues with him, Forsythe said, personal issues that likely contribute to his actions.

Maybe so, but that likely does little to help victims of his group’s venom.

Last week, there was another social media post lamenting the actions of three other teen boys. They had been smashing items in an alley and, when confronted, told the adult to “f— off” and go kill herself.

Teens think they’re invincible. Didn’t we all when we were that age? Death was an abstract thought that was so far off, it might never happen. But that aura of invincibility was always tempered with the realization that consequences awaited when we crossed the line.

Do the youth of today consider consequences when creating havoc? Perhaps the impunity with which the Riverside Park trio carries itself should not surprise us.

What else did we expect when we as a society continue to enable and treat everyone like a victim? What else did we expect when any semblance of personal responsibility is thrown out the window?

Why wouldn’t these teens assume they can act with impunity?

Look around and see what they see — people can use drugs virtually anywhere they wish, drugs that remain illegal, but possession of which — less than 2.5 grams — has been decriminalized (and we wonder why some youths might be a tad confused at messaging from those responsible for securing their futures).

You can burglarize a store, mug a passerby or toss a brick through a window without any real fear of serious punishment in the form of imprisonment.

We have people falling into the most miserable of abysses, tragically addicted to drugs and living in unimaginable squalor on the street, yet civil libertarians fight tooth and nail against involuntary admission to detox, rehab, mental-health institutions — anywhere at all that will be a significant improvement for those in the throes of addiction and mental-health crises.

People who are clearly not in their right mind, who are clearly a danger to themselves and others, who are clearly suffering mightily, apparently must continue to wallow in misery because, um, human rights.

Decriminalization of drugs is not a bad idea if the goal is to suck the lifeblood out of organized crime.

It worked for alcohol, after all.

But decriminalizing simple possession with the goal of reducing stigma and encouraging people to seek help for their addictions can only work if the help is set up before the process begins.

From my vantage point, a laudable pilot project by the provincial and federal governments is missing that component — available and readily accessible treatment options.

And the fact the overdose death rate has only increased in the three months since the decriminalization project began only confirms as much. It has not led to fewer deaths and has indeed led to more problems in the community.

It is all of a piece — broken homes, personal trauma, poverty, addiction, violence.

We can acknowledge that fact and we can have endless compassion. But we can have compassion and also call for common sense to enter the conversation.

Our current approach to the mess is not working and it may only be a matter of time until the tempestuous teen trio graduates to permanent street status, with another three lives wasted.

Twitter: @ChrisJFoulds