The North Vancouver RCMP’s plan to start handing out positive tickets will be an interesting social experiment.
Rather than impose minor fines on young residents committing minor infractions — such as not wearing a helmet while skateboarding — the idea is for officers to give a small reward to those who do the right thing.
Some people will no doubt react to the program with skepticism. We’ve all met — and many of us have been — rebellious teens. To some young minds, bucking authority is a positive thing intended to earn the admiration of peers. The last thing that would motivate such an individual to improve their behaviour would be praise from a cop — the archetypal authority figure — and a free pass to the community pool.
But the RCMP’s program may surprise these nay sayers. After all, it would be a truly unusual young personality that would not experience some small glimmer of gratification, pride even, in response to praise, no matter how minor, from an adult.
Very often, it is the lack of such positive reinforcement that leads to the very behaviours that the more negative approach is intended to curb.
It may be that officers who wander through a skate park issuing tokens of praise to kids with helmets succeed in catching the attention of the youth where before they have failed.
It is very possible that the introduction of a small carrot into the daily experience of youth accustomed to the verbal cane has a quite noticeable effect.
It’s certainly worth a try.
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