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Loitering then and now


NOT long ago, a secondary school in Singapore banned its students from loitering around the neighbourhoods shopping centres.

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This ban was supported by parents with staunch moral values and conservative thinking that loitering and hanging out was wrong, or may lead to one being led astray. So is loitering wrong or right? There are many factors that determine if it is good or bad. For example, walking down the streets of Bukit Bintang, one can get lost in the myriad of colours and culture that make the street teem with life. You may be appalled to see groups of teenagers mainly students, loitering along the pavements aimlessly. This issue of loitering was first highlighted many years ago under the then National Unity & Social Development Minister Datuk Napsiah Omar. However, there were people who claimed that loitering was no different from the olden days where people met in coffeeshops in the kampungs.

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Professor Madya Khaidzir Ismail from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), when asked about loitering then and now, said: No! It is not the same behaviour. The present day loitering by teenagers and youths has got nothing to do with the loitering by villagers during the past era. In those days, people met in coffee- shops to share information, have discussions and share news. The coffeeshop was seen as an ideal meeting place as there were no other places where villagers could meet. The meetings were considered social gatherings to foster ties among the villagers. Currently, loitering brings about negative elements especially if you observe what the teenagers and youths do along the Bintang Walk in the city centre. The publics perception of loitering has changed and now they look at it as something negative because they see teenagers wandering aimlessly without doing anything in particular. Many of these teens are associated with specific music genres such as Punks, Ravers, Metalheads, Goths, Emo and Indie. And, because of this, these teenagers are often looked at negatively because of their looks. However, these teenagers meet in groups because they are neglected or shunned by others and thus develop a sense of belonging. Prof Khaidzir said a common man was an ordinary law-abiding person in a community. He said loitering was another form of pastime just like mat rempit and playing computer games.

Saturday: A chance to be out to chill and lepak

When asked why most of these children loiter, he said: Teenagers find it exciting and interesting just to wander aimlessly with no responsibilities or having nothing to worry about. In Bukit Bintang, we can see the youth sub-culture stand out with their distinct styles, behaviours and interests. Some are seen skating, while some are dancing on the side- walk. Prof Khaidzir added: We must have community centres where these teenagers can engage in light activities such as playing carrom, jamming and exercising. In the city centre, there are many elements that influence our youth fashion, beliefs, slang, dialect, and interest. Scooters, skateboards, surfboards have all played a key role in many youth sub-cultures around the world and that includes Malaysia. Prof Khaidzir said teenagers felt a sense of belonging among friends.

Different colours, styles and length: Youth goes all out to express themselves through their hairstyles.

They are being pressured to have a group that they belong to.

Since children nowadays spend most of their time with friends rather than parents or siblings, they feel the need to belong to one of the social groups, he said, adding that they expressed themselves through a distinctive and symbolic use of style which included fashion, mannerism and language. Prof Khaidzir also said parents played an important part in their childrens growth. They need to work out something so that their kids spend more time at home. They need to be closer to their children. We need to understand them psychologically, so that we make use of the information and knowledge to make them understand why we have to do what we have to as parents to keep them safe and healthy in every sense, he said.

Loitering is it a problem? Jan 19th, 2010 by William Joyce


This article discusses the topic of loitering which I find to be rarely talked about. The article was created around the city of Peterborough, Ontario, Canada. However, the concept can be applied to each and every city.
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The Issue and why it is Problematic Loitering according to Merriam Webster`s definition is to delay an activity with idle stops and pauses or to remain in an area for no obvious reason also known as lagging behind. Loitering is a definite issue in Peterborough more specifically the downtown core. The issue of loitering right now in Peterborough according to the individuals that we have interviewed said that in all cases loitering is becoming a growing concern. The more people that move in to Peterborough from other areas because of financial standing for example the homeless, who are sent here from places such as Toronto because of programs like Ontario works that pays for individuals to come to Peterborough to live; moreover, the individuals that come here usually do not have any relatives or friends in the surrounding area, so they have little to no choice but to accept the financial help from Ontario works which in turn causes these individuals to lean more towards pan-handling to obtain additional funding as the Ontario works program provides barely enough money to live. The pan-handling in Peterborough has not really been an issue today, but according to some individuals it is a growing concern that is not getting any betterbut it is getting quite worse with each passing day. To test this theory we decided to go downtown and ask random people what their thoughts on loitering were by way of conducting a questionnaire. we asked the people of Peterborough what came to mind when they hear the term loitering, the majority had said teenagers or young adults hanging around, causing trouble, not purchasing anything and making it a hard or stressful environment for the older generations to enter a business or walk down town. This also deters people from wanting to go down town and having the confrontation of pan-handlers, which is taking away from the potential businesses in the downtown area making it hard for business owners to make money. Loitering is also caused by the fact that Peterborough is a town for the retired and young Families; therefore there is nothing for the youth in Peterborough to do with their time other than wander downtown socializing making loitering more of an issue than it seems; although, loitering is not illegal itself it has the tendency to bring about many illegal acts for example loitering is considered illegal when it is in an aggressive manner which means a manner that is likely to cause a reasonable person to be concerned for his or her safety or security. Other illegal acts that can be brought about due to loitering that we noticed were gang related as well as drug related. We noticed that on the corner of Simcoe and George Street in the old Zellers entrance a lot of younger teenagers who appeared to be gang members we sitting around causing a big disturbance to those downtown who passed by, they would approach the people and ask them for a cigarette, as well send their gang members on the streets to what looked like asking them if they wanted to purchase any illegal substances. Loitering also causes people to become bored and as we all know when teenagers or young adults get bored they have a tendency to occupy their boredom by destructing property, starting fights and become overly loud, which in Peterborough as well as many other towns or cities is against the law.

We believe that there can also be a positive side to loitering. Loitering does not always need to seem so negative, for example loitering can be used as a means of socialization or entertainment. For example people who gather to meet friends often bring other friends who have never meet before making it easier for people to meet a more diverse group of people which they could not do if they all just gathered at a friends house. This promotes a more diverse society which intern promotes social growth and development of intergenerational/intra-generational properties of the individuals within the groups in question. As inter- generational aspects are passed down from father to son, mother to daughter, and so forth. The individual will need to create their own generational properties to pass down to their future children, which is why it is important to support todays youth by being as supportive as possible, while helping to maintain the laws of societythe laws of the community if you will. The Historical and Social Context Think about what you do every day. Everyone has their morning routine where they wake up and proceed onto their day. On the average day, many people that work within a larger city are approached by someone requesting money, or intimidated by a large group of people who appear questionable in nature. When most people are questioned as to what they think of when visualizing the term loitering, they picture situations just like this. For years the effects of loitering have caused a visible impact on our society in this paper we will speak of the history, effects, programs, and solutions to Peterboroughs current loitering issue. To greater understand the issue at hand, we must first attempt to understand the definition of loitering. By dictionary standards loitering is defined as To stand about without any aim or purpose; to stand about idly; to linger; to hang around. This basically describes that hanging out in one spot with no intention of doing anything or going anywhere can be determined as loitering. The unfortunate factor to this term is the level to which it has been supported within our cities and justice system. History has shown hundreds of complaints against human rights wherein a homeless person or busker will be removed from a property after being accused of loitering, whereas a man or woman demonstrating some financial standing could sit for hours and not be disturbed. Though currently increasing, the issue of loitering has been an issue for hundreds of years. Those adults loitering and soliciting are usually those who are affected by poverty. Throughout the 19th century poverty has been a consistent issue in North America; this has led to a constant level of joblessness and homelessness. A prime example of this is the great depression, for years the aftermath of WWII left hundreds of thousands of people poor, homeless, and jobless. Such effects led to people loitering in many different ways; men would wait all day around hardware stores offering their handyman skills to anyone taking on a home project. On that same note, many more women would solicit their bodies and resort to prostitution in order to be able to feed their families. Even before the depression cases where people were unemployed, unskilled, or disabled, and resorted to these acts still existed. One classic example of this is the stereotypical beggars referred to as far back as the biblical age. All of these cases are prime examples of the current issues at hand. Throughout the 19th century many programs have been attempted. For example: in 1996 Washington D.C. introduced the anti loitering act which posed many of the same regulations as the SSA, 1999. Unfortunately, as history has shown such legal mandates will be introduced with strict enforcement, and proceed to gradually fade out of control over time. On the same note there have been successful programs that have greatly reduced the loitering numbers in larger cities. For example: the city of Chicago introduced their Anti-Loitering Act that dictated "whenever a police officer observes a person whom he reasonably believes to be a criminal street-gang member loitering in any public place with one or more persons, he shall order all persons to disperse and remove themselves from the area."[1]This program led to the successful arrest of over 40,000 people. Unfortunately the massive numbers led to the abolishment of this act due to the lack of a reasonable definition to loitering. New York also

enacted a similar program within a close time frame; this program also met its demise for the same reasons as that of Chicago. In attempt to slow the progression of this growing problem, the government of Ontario passed what we now call the Safe Streets Act, 1999. The goal of this act was to bring legal repercussions upon those who chose to solicit in an aggressive manner, where solicit is defined as means to request, in person, the immediate provision of money or another thing of value, regardless of whether consideration is offered or provided in return, using the spoken, written or printed word, a gesture or other means.[2], and aggressive manner is defined as means a manner that is likely to cause a reasonable person to be concerned for his or her safety or security.[3] Unfortunately, as our research has proven, the effects of this act have had minimal impact on the level or manner of solicitation in the city of Peterborough. Though strict repercussions were set to enforce the new laws set in place, very few have bothered to actually enforce the rules set out by our government. Global Perspective Loitering is a concern that most individuals can agree upon. It can affect any town, city, or metropolis. It can be seen, but rarely is of a concern when it comes to small towns or citiesdue to the population being limited the chances of loitering becoming an issue is very slim; however, cities that have a large population suffer greatly at the hands of loitering. Loitering brings about fear, dismay, or anarchy in some situations. Many illegal activities can be directly linked to loitering on global scale regardless of the cities size or cultural population. The major cities in Canada that are affected the most are: Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Kingston, et el Internationally, cities like Berlin, and Dublin are also feeling the bite from the loitering bug. Generally when you ask someone about their thoughts and feelings when it comes to loitering they will usually speak of how individuals will go to a highly populated area within a citystand beside a business and ask for money from people by either playing music or simply sitting on the street beside the business. In some countrys people that are begging will go to extreme situations just to obtain money from people that are passing by. They will get violent threatening the lives of the people that are passing by or they will inflict wounds upon their body in a way that will give the most graphic effect without severe damage to the body (See appendices) in the picture you can see a middle-aged Malaysian man with a very long cut on his leg holding a cup with outstretched arms indicated that he wants some money. That picture is a good example of some pan-handling that is going on overseas, and with this particular scenario being in Malaysia, it is quite common for pan-handlers to do these acts more specifically for foreign tourists as their own population is aware of why they go to such extremes for money and that there is a better chance to obtain money from foreigners that are completely oblivious to the situation, than from the local citizens. Solution A viable solution to help combat loitering and pan-handling is to initiate a work program that would be aimed towards having individuals that are going to pan-handle get paid money for helping to clean-up the streets by placing garbage and recycling in the appropriate receptacles, removing gum off the streets and there is a lot of other useful things that could help reduce pan-handlingwhich is a common form of loitering worldwide. The provincial government can provide subsidized funding for the municipalities strictly for running the programs and the municipal government can cover a small percentage of the remaining funds that are required. For example the program can be open to any individuals that demonstrate financial need and have been or might be currently involved in pan-handling, wherein they would go to the Peterborough police station and register to be part of the Peterborough clean-up team. They would be wearing a t-shirt that would say something along the lines of Peterborough Clean-up on the front, and Keeping it Natural on the back. They would be given a tshirt with the name of the program, and assigned a unique identification number on a card with their name and picture. They would be required to keep logs of where they had cleaned up in Peterborough and the hours that

they have spent for that week. At the end of the week they would report to an assigned official at the police station and they would give them the record of their progress throughout the week. The official would than give them money (which is undetermined at this time) for their services rendered. We believe that by initiating a program that encourages pan-handlers to become more community involved and placing them in situations of empowerment; wherein, making the program more like a job than an activity, it will encourage them to become more self-reliant, and provide motivation to help further themselves in the workforce. It terms of advertising Peterborough clean-up can possibly improve the amount of tourists coming to Peterborough considerably. The Peterborough clean-up team can also be a sponsored program by local business that are in favor of the program. We believe that by gaining the support of local businesses, and by having the program ran by the Peterborough police it will become community oriented; moreover, using marketing gimmicks that show that Peterborough really is community involved and wants to see people succeed regardless of their current lifestyle. This would defiantly grab the attention of people all throughout Ontario. Nowadays, people want a clean city that promotes a healthy lifestyle and outlook. With a program in place that addresses this issue, Peterborough will look more appealing in the eyes of individuals that currently believe otherwise. Social Conflict Perspective When we had asked random individuals in downtown Peterborough they hadfor the most part, all stated that most of the loitering and bad habits that loitering brings about was caused by teenagers. When the teenagers are loitering in downtown Peterborough they are loitering for a few common reasons. Most of the time they are meeting with their friends or otherwise, at particular locations, and once they are at the location in question the group will usually stay there and social. This causes possible fear and dismay in some individuals which is a perfect example of the social conflict perspective because it is one group that are the advantaged, being the social teenage group, and the disadvantaged, the fear instilled individuals. When an individual is alarmed by the group of teenagers, he or she in turn notifies someone in a position of power (i.e. Security guards). The person in a position of power attempts to resolve the issue by asking the people to leave. In some cases simply asking some of them to leave is not an option and usually the police have to be notified to rectify the situation; moreover, when the teenagers hear that the security wants them to leave and or that he will call the police the teenagers usually fight back with rude comments and sometimes threats. This reactive would dictate that the teenagers believe they are in a position of power themselves and that they are striving to protect what they believe to be a privilege that has been given to them to use at their own free will. This creates competition with some organizations and social groups creating an ongoing social conflict, and according to the manager that we had interviewed at the Galaxy Cinemas they used to have a major issue with teenagers to the above mentioned activity as well as many other illegal activities within the Galaxy establishment. Now, Galaxy has hired a full-time undercover security officer that roams throughout the building and helps to maintain order. This has proven to be very successful in balancing out the position of power away from the teenagers and back onto the adults. We do believe, despite their efforts, that the issue could very well come back to haunt them once they let their guard down. This is because the social conflict perspective states that there is going to be competition when it comes to social status and positions of power and that it always will show itself as a constant battle.

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