Springfield is different because times are different. I can remember when I was a kid and about 3 out of 4 mothers of my friends were home at least most of the day. Today 3 out of 4 mothers are at work (or higher - I don't know the actual statistic, this is just my observation). We aren't there when they get home from school and some don't even have the luxury of making/receiving a phone call at that time depending on the nature of their job. The financial cost of after-school care can sometimes be too high and is only subsidized to what... age 13? The child needs the supervision until much older. Parents often opt to leave their kids at home to save the money for frivoulous (obvious sarcasm) things like rent, food, lights, and/or heat. Lacking adult supervision, these kids find comaradarie with one another during these hours which may begin innocently enough, you know their parents, they know you, and all is well until even just one "cool" kid enters the picture. It doesn't take much of an imagination nowadays to see what can and does happen.
Combine the lack of direct parental supervision during these couple/few hours a day with the drastically reduced "teen friendly" establishments in general that we enjoyed as kids on weekends, i.e., the local bowling alleys, skating rinks and neighborhood theaters, etc... and the activities the kids are turning to for fun or necessity don't involve a hand-stamp if you know what I mean.
The city desperately needs to advertise more aggressively the free after-school programs there are and establish more locations for parents without their own vehicles. Maybe even start seeking donations from businesses and citizens to help subsidize child care to an older age? Someone taking a risk and opening a business with the teens interests in mind would be great too.This won't solve all the problems by any measure and will actually take years to realize the benefit to the city at all but the peace of mind would be realized by the families before the end of the day!
I'm just babbling...
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