Betty LaMarr personal newspaper column in the Lamplighter News.

Betty's Reflection on Memphis Youth, Crime and Health

Betty Lamarr
By Betty Lamarr

I started my morning the usual way. I made a pot of my favorite coffee and sat down to watch one of the most negative things about Memphis – the local news. It was interesting to learn that the police shut down yet another adult night club. I am a little frustrated by this, and not because it ruined my Friday night plans. Instead, I feel like this is just another way that Memphians and local police can distract themselves from the real issues that plague our city: murder, robbery, fraud, domestic violence, rape, sexual abuse – the list goes on and on.
It doesn’t take a statistician to realize that our numbers on the crime scale are astronomical. Yet how many of us get pulled over for doing five miles over the speed limit? By the time it takes the officer to actually write the speeding ticket, you have most likely witnessed a drug deal and received a special solicitation from a passerby. Real crimes go unnoticed. Memphis police are busy shutting down strip clubs rather than dealing with the more difficult issues because at least then they have the façade of protecting the community without having to do much work. It seems they don’t want to get their hands dirty. Or maybe they are scared themselves of having to take on the gangs and violence on so many street corners in our neighborhoods.
I have also noticed that some of these more serious issues seem to stem from a problem with our youth. Not that your precious children or grandchildren are to blame, but take a moment to look around. Does it appear to you that the rules and regulations we once had in the past have been lifted for the most recent generation? Curfews and other age-related mandates seem to have disappeared. There are young kids running around at night with nothing to do but start trouble. And they do indeed start trouble. They are being locked up faster than your favorite cookies at a child’s birthday party, and then they are released the next day! This may benefit the court system and provide a decent amount of revenue for the legal system, but it is harming the very fabric of our community.
Poor family situations lead to troubled children. Troubled children often feel like they have nowhere to turn but to gangs and a life of crime. Let’s begin to tackle the root of the problem instead of minor issues. We need to do our part as parents, educators, and members of our community to lead by example and create an environment that encourages education and self-worth rather than a life of drugs, violence, or prostitution.
And police need to do their part too. They need to use the money entrusted to them by the Memphis community to tackle the big issues instead of infringing upon the freedoms of responsible adults. After all, if the adult clubs were really the problem, cities like Amsterdam would have crime rates that dwarf ours. However, that is not the case. We can learn a lot from other countries. Perhaps we could learn that dancing around in tiny underwear is not exactly the modern “rain dance” for a crime ring.
However, we all do our part to create the environment in our community. A little more self-respect could benefit all members of the community and help keep women and men off the streets. It is always easier to point the finger at someone else than to look inside yourself and discover how you can make your own improvements. We might be closing down strip clubs, but what are we going to replace them with – another club, a pawn shop, a liquor store, or maybe a school, a tutoring center, or a place of worship? Embrace your responsibility for a better community, and then hopefully we can depend on the law enforcement and political leaders of Memphis to add the backbone to an already strong foundation.
Please contact Betty Lamarr with questions or comments at