hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA


March 21, 2013

Let's give gangs a hefty boot!


Give them a reason to excel, not to rebel.

The very same issue of the paper which featured the story about spending to fight gangs also printed a story below the fold about an autistic swimmer from Pinkerton who overcame a hardship to succeed in sports.

He could have quit, joined a gang and gotten himself into trouble, but he chose a different route — one that led him to become a role model for those with special needs. He wound up inspiring others.

In the long run, when students enter the adult world and try to secure a decent future, who will get the nod? The gang leader with a police record? Or the kid who secured decent grades, made a firm impression in school and the community, and became a source of pride to himself and his peers?

Good news is what promotes a city. If only the headlines were reversed — and the kid with autism got top billing on this day. Perhaps we could have saved face as a population. A sense of panic would have been alleviated.

So people like me would be more secure in their comfort zone.

Photographer and writer Tom Vartabedian is retired from The Haverhill Gazette. He contributes this regular column.

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