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Its not just youth

Survey gauges extent of problems on Elliot Street

BRATTLEBORO—A recent survey prepared by Erin Ruitenberg, an AmeriCorps/VISTA volunteer for the Brattleboro Community Justice Center, and numerous volunteers revealed people frequenting Elliot Street perceive not youth, but adults, as the source of most of the area’s unwanted behavior.

The survey, conducted on Elliot and Flat streets on Sept. 17 and 19, sought to gauge perceptions of visitors, residents, workers and business owners regarding youth “problem” behavior.

Ruitenberg said the broad question the survey asked was, “do most people see youth as a problem and if so in what way are they the problem?”

A total of 226 people completed the survey. The largest age group was 20-29-year-olds, or about 33 percent of people responding. Of the 226 respondents, 126 were men, and 97 women. Three respondents did not indicate their gender.

The survey revealed that although respondents perceived some negative behavior perpetuated by youth, respondents perceived adults as more the source of unwanted behavior and an impact on people’s feeling of safety.

Selectboard Clerk Jesse Corum said the survey was informative but wondered if conducting a second one in July or August would yield different results?

Dora Bouboulis, Selectboard Vice-Chair who said she took the survey, asked if the number of people avoiding Elliot Street would change if surveys had been handed out on Main Street? She also wondered about respondents’ cultural experiences, like a more rural person observing an urban setting, could impact perceptions.

Dan Yates, representing Building a Better Brattleboro, said the survey was “tremendous” and hoped youth would be encouraged to help solve the perceived problems on Elliot Street. But, he added, problems still existed.

“The issue is still there. We have to keep it in our minds,” he said.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #71 (Wednesday, October 13, 2010).

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