Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Is the play the thing for trouble making youth of the city?

 “The fault….is not in our stars,…..But in ourselves…" 
Echoes of Shakespeare still relevant to local concerns to this day.

Prince Rupert is not the only community with concerns about their youth and the associated worries of vandalism, teenage drinking and assorted other problems. Like this community, other locales across the continent are looking for ways to tackle some of the social issues that have cropped up when youth go astray.

As was recently outlined at a Prince Rupert city council, frustrations over a the number of youngsters causing trouble around the city has become a key issue in town, with more than a few suggesting that there is a need to offer more for youth to do and to ensure that those that do break the law are held accountable for their actions, something that to date doesn't seem to be happening.

And while the court system is most likely overloaded as it is, there are other options available to make sure that those who do offend understand that they are doing wrong and hopefully can be steered away from further trouble.

An interesting project in Boston, Massachusetts may provide a template for what to do with some of those youth that find themselves in trouble with the law, and while it won't answer all of the concerns it does offer at least a step towards accountability and perhaps a step away from potentially worse situations.

The court examines the young offenders who have taken part in the  regular run of youth offences, such as drinking, fighting and vandalism and offers them an alternative to jail or other punishment but on the condition that they participate in the alternative system.

The program is called Shakespeare in the Courts, currently in its tenth year of existence, it takes young offenders all under the age of 17 and directs them by court order to take part in four afternoons a week of acting exercises, rehearsal, and Shakespearean study.

The theatre program takes the place of more traditional methods of punishment such as lock up or community service and is to serve as a way to channel some of the anger and energy and perhaps offer a focus for the offenders to seek out less troublesome pursuits. And while organizers are under no illusions that all of the participants will suddenly lead a less troubled lifestyle, the hope is that they reach some of them and offer a way out of what could be a slippery slope downwards.

The Boston Globe offers up a review of the program (read it here) complete with a look at what organizers hope to achieve from it and what they realize its shortcomings may be, the blue print that it provides is something that could possibly be looked at locally, modified for local design, as a form intervention into a growing concern in the community that so far has come up with few options for solutions.

Clearly not designed for the more serious of criminal activities it could at least provide a starting point for some of the downtown concerns that have provided for much discussion of late.

NPR-- After Juvenile Court, A Stint In Shakespeare’s Court

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