TERRE HAUTE —
Community concerns over the frequency of walkaways and resulting violent incidents by young residents at Gibault School are both understandable and reasonable.
Dealing with the situation may be challenging and difficult for Gibault officials. Nonetheless, it must be done. Soon.
Gibault has a long history in Vigo County of providing important services to troubled youth. The residential facility south of Terre Haute on U.S. 41 at Allendale Hill is an institution with a positive legacy. While its mission may not be easy to accomplish, society needs places like this to help young people overcome problems that have led them to display anti-social or even criminal behavior. What’s more, we’re convinced the community wants to embrace and support Gibault’s work.
But there is a limit to what people will or should tolerate. The growing safety concern intensified recently after three Gibault walkaways allegedly attacked a woman in the southside Walmart parking lot. Last fall, there was a violent carjacking and fatal car wreck involving Gibault youth.
Residents of southside neighborhoods such as Allendale and Richland Manor have been outspoken about the walkaway incidents and their concerns over what they see as inadequate security at Gibault. Vigo County School Corp. officials have echoed those concerns because of the close proximity of Honey Creek and Dixie Bee schools to Gibault. Local law enforcement agencies are frequently called to Gibault and are beginning to probe further into the problem.
While Gibault officials’ initial response to the public uproar seemed to indicate there was nothing they could do about the walkaway situation, they have begun to change their tune. After yet another walkaway incident that ended with a 12-year-old girl roaming through private property in Richland Manor on Wednesday, a facility official said Gibault would be working with law enforcement and community groups to find ways to enhance security and calm fears.
That’s exactly what Gibault should be doing. Shrugging off legitimate community concerns about safety is an unacceptable response.
We are encouraged that Gibault officials are stepping up their efforts. They should not stop until a satisfactory solution is found.