This week’s column is definitely going to sound like a rant, but I don’t really know how to approach this topic any other way. I’d appreciate it if you’d bear with me.
I was away from town Saturday helping a family member, and arrived home about 8:30 p.m. As I parked, I noticed three little girls walking around in my yard, who wandered off into a neighbour’s yard. The girls appeared to be about 5 years of age. It was starting to get cold and dark, and the more I thought about this, the more it angered me. There are lots of reasons why, in the neighbourhood and community I live in, grown adults should hesitate to walk around at 8:30 p.m. on a Saturday night, let alone a group of toddlers.
Some violent stuff is known to happen in Wetaskiwin. The summer I moved here, 2015, some fellow was attacked and stabbed in the Walmart parking lot, and he was almost disembowelled. No reason was ever given for the attack. That was my introduction to Wetaskiwin.
A couple months ago some fellows attacked somebody in a local apartment building, then fled police and drove their car right into the back of the Safeway. Not sure what reasons were given for that either.
It was reported a few months ago that Wetaskiwin is the eighth most dangerous city in Canada. I don’t know about anybody else who lives here, but I take that seriously. This is not the place where little toddlers should be wandering around on a Saturday night. Alone.
Then there are the creeps. Recently, a high profile arrest was made in this community for child pornography and just a few days ago another alleged child molester was arrested here. In fairness this problem isn’t restricted to just Wetaskiwin, it appears to be everywhere. Little toddlers should not be walking around unsupervised on a Saturday night in a community that obviously hosts these kinds of people.
Then there are the idiots on the roads. Motorist behaviour varies day to day, but Saturday night in my neighbourhood there are morons around who think pushing a gas pedal to the floor is something special. Brake-stands, burnouts, 80 to 100 km/hr on the street etc. happen all the time. Little kids don’t always understand the danger traffic poses; they’ll just run out into the roadway for a Frisbee, ball etc.
I’ve got a high-speed alley problem too (a gray Ford F150 with a box topper and silver Nissan Titan apparently think my alley is Edmonton International Raceway). Alleys are intended for residents to access their property, but some use them as a high-speed shortcut. I’m just waiting for the day police come to my door and say, “A little kid was run over in the alley. Did you see anything?” Saturday night in this neighbourhood is not the time or place for toddlers to be walking around alone.
I didn’t really want to get in-depth on “How to be a parent,” but it appears something has to be said. In my opinion, one of the core duties of parenting must be supervision. These little tykes don’t know much about the world yet; they rely on their parents for guidance and protection. If the parents are really struggling, go to the public library, use one of the internet computers and Google the topic, “How To Be A Parent.” Alternatively, if you’re in Red Deer, head over to Chapters book store. They have an entire section devoted to parenting.
So I guess what I’m saying is if successful parenting involves letting little five year old toddlers wander around alone on a Saturday night in a bad neighbourhood, I’m glad I have nothing to do with the parenting world.
Stu Salkeld is editor of The Wetaskiwin Pipestone Flyer and writes a regular column for the newspaper.