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The city of Meadowlakes is once again having problems with vandalism.

This time, hooligans targeted the golf course at Hidden Falls, causing an estimated $1,000 in damage.

There is a solution, but it means young people must assume a leadership role by setting a good example for their peers.

The golf-course case is the latest in a string of criminal-mischief episodes stretching back over the past couple of years. Previously, vandals have defaced property, sank a boat, damaged cars and roamed the neighborhood like out-of-control brigands.

What’s going on here?

While it’s true every community has problems with crime of one sort or another, Meadowlakes — at least on the surface — does not seem the type of place where vandalism should be a concern.

For starters, it’s a gated community. That means security is keeping an eye on everyone who comes in or goes out, including nonresidents.

The homes are nice and the streets are clean. Most of the residents hold down jobs or are retirees with some type of disposable income.

The adults of Meadowlakes are active in the community and their churches; they hold positions of leadership; and many are decision-makers at their jobs.

They set a good example for others to follow.

And many of them have children.

Crime researchers know the majority of vandalism committed in neighborhoods with a profile such as Meadowlakes can be traced to juveniles. Bored kids, in other words.

As a community, the adults of Meadowlakes have banded together to do everything they can to curb these acts of criminal mischief.

They have increased patrols by law enforcement.

They have enacted a curfew.

They have formed a Neighborhood Watch program.

In short, they have taken reasonable and prudent steps to stop these incidents.

So what’s next?

Maybe now it’s time the youth start showing a little responsibility. Study after study has indicated just how powerful peer pressure can be.

If that’s the case, then the kids of Meadowlakes have an opportunity to hone the leadership skills they have learned from their parents and mentors. They can work together to prevent any more acts of vandalism by intervening with their peers.

Even if those peers are visitors to Meadowlakes.

By condemning vandalism and other anti-social behavior, these youths will take a stand that shows they value their community. Peer counseling can be a powerful force for good.

Although keying a car or spray-painting a sign might not seem like serious crimes, they are. Anyone who commits such an offense is saying they don’t value another person’s property. And that kind of damage costs time and money to repair, not to mention the inconvenience.

Juveniles who have too much time on their hands and turn to such wanton acts should have their energies redirected to more positive pursuits. Doubtless many parents are trying to do their best, and some probably could do more.

But it’s also true kids listen to other kids. And when youths condemn criminal acts such as vandalism, there’s a chance their words — and their actions — will make a difference.