A kid and a teen
One is 11 years old. The other 17 years old.
A broken safety net.
Two lives changed forever.
One is dead. The other faces the distinct possibility of being caged for the rest of his life.
It’s a tragedy.
No doubt about it.
People want answers.
But they will mostly get questions.
Why do adults think it is OK to allow minors to drink?
Why does anyone leave a loaded gun lying around a home that’s easily accessible?
Why wasn’t Children’s Protection Services more vigilant?
Why does an adult drop off an 11-year-old at a party and not check it out?
Why are we afraid to get involved?
How does an 11-year-old go undetected, basically fending for himself for food and shelter?
How can a “flop house” for teens be allowed?
How can we help kids be kids?
How can an 11-year-old be allowed to write off school?
How many more Hunters and Zachs are out there?
Do we really care?
Do we have the heart to try and save them?
Do we find it easier to ignore them?
Were there warning signs law enforcement and schools ignored?
Were neighbors and other relatives diligent enough?
Were we, as a community, culpable in some manner?
If we had more police officers could it reduce the number of teens and kids wandering the streets at midnight?
If we see a kid in trouble do we fear getting involved?
If more of us volunteered and gave of our time to help mentor kids would that help?
What does the life and death of the Hunters of this world say about us?
What good can come of this?
What kind of quality of life will Zachary have?
What responsible adult leaves teens to their own devices while allowing them to have alcohol?
What does this say about us?
When did adults stop acting like adults?
When will we, as a community, say enough is enough?
When will we tire of young people throwing their lives away?
When will we realize kids and teens need boundaries and when will we enforce them?
When will we stop saying we don’t have enough time to help?
Will we even remember let alone care six months from now?
Will we redouble our effort as a community to mentor and guide youth?
Will we give organizations that exist to help kids the resources they need to help more kids?
Will we dismiss this as a tragedy that couldn’t have been avoided?
Will we soul search or just feed off the chatter in the aftermath of the unthinkable?
Will we simply say such tragedies are unavoidable and go on our way?
Will we shrug our shoulders and say, “Oh well, it wasn’t my kid or grandkid”?
Have we become numb and therefore accept kids killing kids?
Have we done everything possible as a community to help struggling kids?
Is it possible if we help the most vulnerable we all become stronger as a community?
Is this the new norm?
Is saying that just a cop out?
Can we open our hearts?
Can we find a way to help?
Can we stop thinking this is somehow the responsibility of government alone?
Can we get out of our comfort zones to help kids?
Can we intercede on behalf of other struggling kids?
Can we stop the abuse?
Can we make a difference?
Will we make a difference?
And most important of all, will we even try to make a difference?
This column is the opinion of Dennis Wyatt and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Journal or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 209.249.3519.