Typecast criminals

Attention: All pierced, tattooed or otherwise visually original people, you are all criminals. At least that’s what Crime Stoppers believes.

Crime Stoppers’ latest ad campaign has been flooding Calgary Transit advertising with images of a group of youths under the slogan "This time it’s personal." Statements spread across the pictures of the pierced "criminals" read: "I can steal a car in under 30 seconds, dude!" and "If no one is stopping us then why not?"

Hi, Crime Stoppers? I’d like to report a crime.

According to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, all Canadians are free from persecution due to gender, race, religion or age. The very act of plastering these advertisements on Canadian soil is a violation of the spirit of the laws which Crime Stoppers tries to enforce. What makes these stereotypical ads any different from having a couple of black guys huddled together saying, "I can rob a bank in under three minutes?"

Advertisements like these only add to the stigma surrounding teenagers. Remember when you walked into mall stores only to have an attendant watch your every move to the point where they ignored other customers just to make sure that you don’t nab something? It’s ridiculous, when you’re 18 you’re a thief, when you’re 45 you’re a kleptomaniac.

Not only do these ads place a false target on the entire youth community, they also provide the public with a false set of ideas about what a criminal is. A criminal is not just someone you can pick out of a crowd and say "It’s that guy right there." The message of these ads provides people with a false sense of security, as they don’t expect their next-door neighbour to run around with a machete after a bad day.

Instead of sharpening the axe for the necks of all those punks, why doesn’t Crime Stoppers put their money to good use by creating rehabilitation programs, or providing accurate information for the public to base their judgments on? This misinformation creates a bias that in some cases leads to the felonies that Crime Stoppers tries to inhibit.

The next time you’re downtown, first look over at the punk with the studded leather jacket, ripped jeans and skin tunnels in his ears, and then glance over at the guy with the briefcase, comb over and blue suit with matching tie. Do you know which one beat his wife last night? Do you know who is about to rob a bank? If only you knew what was in that briefcase…

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