Unsupervised Children at Atkins Field

To the editor and neighbors:

It has come to our attention at the Center for an Agricultural Economy that a teenage boy has been frequenting Atkins Field, asking young children for drugs and to inappropriately touch him in exchange for $20. Many of the children who frequent Atkins Field are much younger, age ten or so, and they are unsupervised.

At the same time, we have seen a small group of young children engaging in vandalism at Atkins. Vegetables, bicycles, signage, and the hoop plastic have been destroyed with baseball bats and golf clubs.

All of this pain and violence is so difficult to see, and we can only imagine how difficult it must be for our young people to experience. We can almost hear these young people all screaming for help in these various ways. The question for the Hardwick community is, what are we going to do about that?

For starters, although we believe many consider Atkins a safe place, people should know that CAE does not have offices on site. Staff and volunteers are often on the property for meetings and garden work, but we are not trained in child therapy or services.

This is not just an Atkins Field problem. We would like to start a broader conversation with our community about these troubles. Can we find some solutions together?

Meanwhile, no parent should assume their child will be supervised at Atkins Field. Please be aware of these facts in deciding how your family spends time at Atkins Field.

Thank you for your understanding. Please get in touch if you would like to join a larger conversation about how to make Hardwick a safer, healthier community, especially for our young people.

Bethany M. Dunbar
The Center for an Agricultural Economy