Pubdate: Sun, 25 Aug 2002
Source: Reno Gazette-Journal (NV)
Copyright: 2002 Reno Gazette-Journal
Author: Gary Cutter


The editorial concerning the plan to open sealed records so offenders pay 
the consequences of their actions (Aug. 12) seems destructive. Why not have 
the same rules for all the coaches, teachers and, for that matter, parents? 
Shouldn't we lead by example?

The retort, the rules apply to children: agreed! Wouldn't it be nice to put 
emphasis on scholastic rather than behavioral needs, but tobacco, alcohol 
and drugs are a problem. Using extracurricular activities as a reward for 
appropriate behavior has merit, but coercive steps that require "consent" 
to punish may do more harm than good. The concept of sealed records is 
based on the idea juveniles deserve a chance before they face the 
consequences of their actions. Children not allowed to participate will 
undoubtedly have the implied confidentiality of sealed records violated, 
and some reason for denied participation will be assumed or given.

There are a lot of ways to reduce the drug, alcohol and smoking amongst 
teenagers, but the scarlet-letter approach to deterrence seems 
old-fashioned. Being able to play doesn't insure a child is immune to 
problems, but banning troubled teens makes them lose more and more options 
to find a better path.

Gary Cutter, Reno
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