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Making adults bear the responsibility of their actions
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Dear Editor,

At what point do adults become responsible?  

I recently moved into a new home in Goshen Hills. Within the first 24 hours I could not help notice several four wheelers tearing up and down a small sandy lot next to my house, the railroad tracks and the nearby residential streets. This not only kicks large amounts of sand and dirt all over cars and belongings but it is happening on private property that is full of junk pieces of old TVs, metal, rebar, chunks of wood and assorted trash, not to mention trains traveling at 50 mph. It also is not limited to daylight hours but day and night. There was a time when adults were responsible and had consideration for property and neighbors. If these were kids it would simply be a matter of speaking to the parents. But these are adults. Unfortunately, I’ve often seen drivers riding with very small children in front of them.

I and several others have tried to stop the riders, explain to them it’s private property which they were trespassing, that the area was dangerous and that the fear was someone would get hurt. To say I was scoffed at would be minor. I had one driver, one riding with the two very small children on the seat in front of him, express that he was not like the others but was “a responsible person.” Define responsible.

One local woman even had the audacity to come to my home, enter into my garage, unbidden, and rather rudely and loudly complain that I had no right to tell her family members where they could ride. This is a group of adults with no concern for anyone but themselves. What happened to adults being responsible for their actions?  Many of my more responsible neighbors have also expressed dislike and true concern for these four-wheeled idiots. Often expressing, “it will take someone getting injured to stop it.”  

The property owners have placed no trespassing signs up, just to have them torn down.  Several times the Effingham Sheriff has been called. Though they do show up, it is usually 20 to 30 minutes. I also believe that because the area that this occurs is at the back of the subdivision, they have no interest in patrolling the area or to stop and speak to the individuals involved. The common statement from them is “it’s only 13, 14-year-old kids” and that “we have no jurisdiction, this area is private property.”

How wrong they are. These are not “kids” but grown adults. Private property or not, the sheriff does have jurisdiction and a responsibility to public safety. It is only rarely that anyone sees a child under the age of 18 in this area on four wheelers. Even after the police do show up, the noise, mess and danger continues within minutes after they leave.   

Just recently two adults collided at the end of the street. I believe both were over 30, neither with any protective gear and no concern for the children or animals that were outside that day. Both had to go to the hospital and one is now in a leg brace and arm cast. The other sustained a head injury.

But even before the Georgia State Patrol officer could arrive, one left the scene hiding his four-wheeler. This same GSP officer was later asked about the jurisdiction question and many in the neighborhood were relieved to hear the officer state that Effingham is responsible for the area and can patrol.  

Sad to say that what everyone knew would happen has. Wasn’t it just last week one child was killed and another seriously injured from falling in a well while riding a four-wheeler? Who is responsible? The adults who allowed two young children to ride alone in an unknown area? Or the adults who knew the dangers yet obviously didn’t care. Now we have two adults in our community that are injured as well. Is it the property owner’s responsibility or the adults riding carelessly?

Within a week more adults were out again, this time on my property behind my house, slinging mud everywhere.

Once again the sheriff’s office was called. Even while the officer stood talking to me, these same individuals were riding on the railroad tracks close by. I never saw him try to look for them to stop them, even after I told him who and where they were.

Georgia law states that you can ride these four wheelers only on your own private property or with written permission from the property owner, never on public property or public streets. I will admit that they can be fun when ridden in a safe area with protective gear. But a residential street, vacant lot, construction zone or lake bed is not a safe area.

Also, respect for your neighbors, pride in the neighborhood and respect for other’s property, is the responsibility of each and every adult.

When the children see that the adults around them have no responsibility for their own action or the effects it may have on others, why do we believe that they will grow to be responsible adults? Our children will live what they learn.

Is this what we want them to learn? Do we want someone killed before someone with the ability will step forward and it is stopped?  

Kathy Schaudt