Drive around the streets of Greenfield in the afternoon, after school's over and before parents come home from the fields.
You'll see them by the dozens, maybe the hundreds. Children roaming the streets unsupervised, ready to cause some trouble.
It's not the children's fault. They have nobody to look after them, nothing to do. So they seek refuge in the library (I've heard reports of staff describing their facilities as the "town's babysitter").
Yesterday, when the TechMobile from the Media Center for Art, Education & Technology showed up, about 40 children happily overwhelmed the teacher with their demands for attention.
So, what happens when there's no TechMobile? When the library closes? The children are still there, playing ball by themselves.
Or getting recruited by older, more street savvy kids. Being instructed in the arts of causing trouble.
Folks, our unsupervised children in Greenfield today are our gang problem tomorrow. And I say "our problem" because this needs to be tackled collectively. Their parents, they're in the fields making money for their families and creating wealth for Monterey County. Specially these days of a reduced workforce (yes, all those reports of fewer immigrants crossing the border are true) harvesters are being asked to work longer hours so vegetables don't rot in the fields. By the time parents make it home, they've been away from their homes for 16 or 17 hours. Plenty of time for the kids to get in trouble.
Something needs to be done, and soon. We've already seen crime levels in the Salinas Valley spike in recent years, and if this amount of unsupervised children continues, it's only going to get worse.
Let's hear some ideas. Let's see somebody step into action. Keep me posted.