Reine Duell Bethany - Author and Illustrator
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Unsupervised Children: The 3:00-7:00 PM Nightmare

Last night (Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016), I attended a safety meeting at Kennedy Park in Hempstead Village. We were treated to a thorough description of the what the Hempstead Village Police Department is now doing to keep village citizens safe: LED street lights, ShotSpotter combined with cameras to catch perps, a diligent patrol protocol, a three-officer anti-gang unit devoted solely to gang investigation, a juvenile department, and the largest village police force in New York State. That's oly a partial list.
     I feel like the village has practically had to remake itself as a police state to cope with rising crime; though Chief Michael McGowan did point out that the village has retained its five-year average of crime levels, with a strong dip downward until January 2016, and an uptick since then, especially in stolen cars. We have had 6 homicides this year!
      As various officials and then citizens spoke, I asked what citizens could do, if anything, to help out. My question was too vaguely worded to be understood, but after I sat down, I realized that what was filtering through to me was that many, many children in Hempstead are unsupervised -- particularly, Mayor Hall said, 3-7 p.m., which is when they are most at risk for getting recruited into gangs, indulging in sex, and doing other foolish things.
      And that is the key. The reason gangs can grow iw that they can recruit at schools, and the reason they can recruit at schools is that parents are not there for them, keeping them occupied in gainful activity after school lets out.
     No wonder Hempstead High has such a lousy graduation rate.
      I Googled "Unpsupervised Middle School Children" and saw that 11 million to 14 million children nationwide (depending which website I viewed) are unsupervised after school, including 4 million middle school kids.
     What can be done? It is an enormous problem.

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