The recent Kroger scandal, at the corner of Highland and Poplar, has Memphians concerned for the wellbeing and safety of family and friends.
Living in Memphis for the vast majority of my life, I’ve grown up in phases: from terrified of being alone night or day, to over comfortable with closing the local coffee shop I worked at by myself at midnight, to where I am today. My heart saddens for the city that is rooted so deeply in love and support to be hit with spurts of violent crime that fill up our news channels.
As many know, over the weekend Kroger was bombarded by a mob of black youths who swarmed and beat three victims unconscious. Onlookers could blame the parents for their lack of disciplining the children, the youth themselves for causing the disturbance, or the city’s government for lack in implication of stricter rules and regulations for teens.
Should the police force be doing more? Should Memphis residences just be more cautious? Should curfew times be stricter? Should violations and fines be enforced? Do these teens even have the proper knowledge of governmental rules set in place for them?
On the basis that Public Administrators are not only high and mighty government officials, but also servants publicly working in departments and agencies at all levels, we need to keep in mind the safety and protection of all involved when demanding stricter implication and policies. Is an incident such as this truly a public administration debate? We must define and uproot the definition of Public Administration before we throw our ideas and demands their way.
As quoted from “Public Administration in an Advancing South,” Gordon Clapp (previous Chairman of the Tennessee Valley Authority) defined public administration as “a public instrument whereby democratic society may be more completely realized.’ This implies that it must ‘relate itself to concepts of justice, liberty, and fuller economic opportunity for human beings’ and is thus ‘concerned with people, with ideas, and with things.’”
More recently scholars claim that “public administration has no generally accepted definition”, because the “scope of the subject is so great and so debatable that it is easier to explain than define.”
Enforced by Tennessee Government, the curfew laws for teens stand that teens under the age of 16 cannot be in public between the hours of 10pm and 6am. According to an article from 2013, published by “global post” online, although curfew may seem silly, “the Annie E. Casey Foundation reported that national juvenile detention rates were at their lowest in 35 years, with Tennessee exhibiting the biggest drop — it is unclear how big a role that curfew has played, but it’s safe to assume that curfews didn’t hurt.”
I remember as a High Schooler, being pulled over at 3am one morning for a curfew violation. I laughed at the police officer as he called my parents, and cursed him for his “stupidity” as I got in the car with my mom. Needless to say, he prevented a 16 year old girl, who had snuck out of her house, from meeting up at an 18 year old boys house in the middle of the night. As I get older, my respect for the Memphis Police Department and our government officials continues to increase.
Our Tennessee Government is right in placing these laws, but do measures need to be taken henceforth to enforce them? Growing up in a predominantly white suburb, the police were close to impossible to avoid as a teen after 11pm. In the city where the population increases substantially, it might be harder to survey ever so closely. Teens might also know that they have a greater chance of getting away without punishment.
One idea I propose is to further incorporate the idea of reprimanding in relation to alcohol/drug abuse classes into the school system. I am aware that a couple days of the year most students sit in on a lecture about the influence of drugs and alcohol. Is the government getting a portion of the lecture as well? Some students could hear the effects of drug and alcohol all day and will not change their minds about their involvement with them. I feel as if our public administration representatives should have the opportunity to voice to the students the rules put in place for teens and why they are as such. Most teens hear these rules and right them off as silly and undeserved. If I were a teenager I would need statistics, facts, reasoning, and a voice before I gave someone the right to be heard.
All in all, I feel as if it falls into the hands of our Public Administrators locally to enforce that classes be taken and lectures set in place for teens in raising awareness for governmental rules and regulations. Why is it that Driver’s Education classes are held, but alcohol and drug abuse classes are secluded to a few hours a year? Is it possible to offer classes such as these either as a mandatory elective in school or as a class such as drivers ed. that deduces our insurance? With crime rates as they are now, something has to be done in the hands of those larger than protesters and onlookers.
Clapp, Gordon. 1948. “Public Administration in an Advancing South.” Public Administration Review Vol 8. No. 2 pp. 169-175.