Learning Infractions

Teaching kids to snitch


City officials in Fayetteville, Arkansas, have added a new lesson to the curriculum: teaching fourth- and fifth-grade students how to spot building code and zoning violations. Kid-friendly characters-Willie Weeds, Vinnie the Violator, Curbside Carla-will teach children how to identify and report unclipped lawns, improperly disposed tires and motor oil, and failure to comply with recycling regulations. Similar programs are under way in San Antonio and Corpus Christi, Texas.

Yolanda Fields, Fayetteville's community resources director, told the Northwest Arkansas Morning News the instruction in regulatory compliance constitutes a "full-blown interactive education program" and insisted it is not an attempt to get children to report on their parents. But Fields added that while the city recorded about 3,000 code violations in Fayetteville last year, "I think we'll probably get close to 4,000 by the end of this year."

Alan Wilbourn, director of school and community relations for Fayetteville Schools, told the paper the program is simply another way the schools are teaching students to
be model citizens. "The DARE program has been in the schools
for years," he noted.

Numerous studies have shown DARE to be an abject failure at its stated objective of keeping kids away from illicit drugs. One thing DARE has produced is several high-profile cases of children turning in their parents for minor drug offenses. Probably not the best comparison to draw.