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Shirley offers fix for bad parenting
Sterilize irresponsible moms, dads, he says

BRIAN HICKS / Charleston Post And Courier | October 1 2006

Charleston City Councilman Larry Shirley says the robbery of a downtown video store - allegedly by a band of kids, including one too young to be charged - is a sure sign society has gone awry, and it's time to start a "dialogue."

And one of the things he says needs to be talked about is whether bad parents should be sterilized.

"What we've got is a failure in society, whether it's in Mount Pleasant with yuppie parents or whether it's on the East Side with poor crackhead parents," Shirley said Friday. "We pick up stray animals and spay them. These mothers need to be spayed if they can't take care of theirs. ... Once they have a child and it's running the streets, to let them continue to have children is totally unacceptable." Deadbeat dads might ought to be sterilized as well, he said.

Wednesday night, police arrested a 14-year-old girl and 12-year-old boy in connection with a stickup at the Hollywood Video at East Bay and Calhoun streets.

A 9-year-old who was apparently involved was taken home to his mother by police, saying he was too young to charge.

Shirley, like many in the community, was aghast that someone could be turned loose for being too young to be charged with a crime, and that the parents of these kids had no idea what they were up to at 9 p.m. on a school night.

"It is a tragedy to bring a child into this world and subject them to the world in that video," Shirley said, referring to a DVD found by police earlier this year that featured local residents flashing guns and drugs to the beat of gangsta rap.

If a child is too young to do time for a crime, his folks ought to do it, Shirley said.

This, Shirley says, is not about race. He said that the only difference between the East Side holdup and the Wando High School students who were charged with a string of robberies is that "Mount Pleasant parents have the money to get lawyers for their thugs."

State Sen. Robert Ford, D-Charleston, says Shirley is correct, that this is a societal problem, but that the notion of sterilizing people is just "crazy."

"What Larry Shirley needs to talk about is getting City Council to provide some recreational facilities and activities for these kids and creating an atmosphere conducive to a normal society," said Ford, a former councilman.

"We've got all sorts of things for kids to do in my neighborhood in West Ashley. They need that downtown. But he's upset that kids aren't listening to their parents. So what's new?"

Charleston police have made no new arrests in the video store robbery, and the kids detained for the holdup face a hearing Monday morning.

Police said Friday that it's up to the Solicitor's Office whether to call in social workers to investigate the home life of the 9-year-old sent home after the robbery.

Shirley said sometimes social services is part of the problem, making parents afraid to whip their kids when they need it. Ford says that's the way it is supposed to work.

"Hasn't he heard, 'It takes a village'?"


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