Preventative action required!
I went to the grocery store the other day during what turned out to be the lunch-hour break at the local school. I have done this before and I have seen what I am about to describe before. It bothered me then, and it bothered me this time.
When I arrived at the store, there was a line of young people, between the ages of 12 and 15 lined up at the door, waiting to go in. There was a man at the door controlling entry into the store. I walked past the line of students and entered. The man opened the door for me and bid me welcome.
I wondered about the line so I asked. How come the youth were being made to wait?
Well, it turns out the store does not allow more than 5 young people in the store at a time during lunch hour. “We can’t keep our eyes on a whole crowd of them,” was the official reason why they were being asked to wait in line. Apparently if there are too many of the young people in the store at once, the store owner worries about the ‘increased risk of shoplifting’. I noticed there was even a sign posted: “No more than 5 students at a time.”
I walked around the store picking up the things I had come to buy: some milk, bread, a few vegetables. I felt guilty. I felt like, because I was there, the students had to wait. But I knew that wasn’t true. Even if there were no adult shoppers in the store, the youth would still have to wait at the door – no more than five students at a time. Remember the sign.
And it made me angry. Yes, I am sure there are statistics which show something like, ‘there is a greater risk of shoplifting when more than five students enter a store during a break from school’. No doubt an insurance company somewhere has come up with this statistic and shared it widely, maybe even enforced in on stores.
As I left the store I couldn’t help but wonder about the possible messages.
To the students: “You are dangerous, untrustworthy, potential risks. You must be controlled.”
To the adult shoppers:
Students are not trustworthy!
I was tempted to walk out. But I didn’t. Shame on me.
As I left the store, I looked down the line of students. They didn’t seem annoyed. They were taking it in their stride. They had accepted the rule and they waited, talking with friends, texting others, calling someone on the always present cell phone. A few were even laughing easily with the man controlling the door. They seemed, on the outside at least, okay with it.
But I couldn’t help thinking that if I was a student waiting in that line, when I entered the store I would be more tempted than before to shoplift something.
I also thought about how much like some programs this was.
And I wondered – isn’t this overt discrimination?