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Teen-Agers, Elderly Team Up to Combat Crime Together

Associated Press

Terrence Page and Maryon Freifelder have been an unlikely pair of friends for three years, teaming up on issues of interest to young and old.

Page is a senior at Miami Central High school in Miami, Fla.; Freifelder is an activist with the American Assn. of Retired Persons and a member of Florida’s Silver-Haired Legislature.

Together, they have traveled across the state on campaigns for new laws. Now they are teaming up again to promote a new crime-prevention project--called Youth and Elderly Against Crime--linking the two generations.

“We sincerely believe that youth and age--if we’re willing to walk hand in hand--can solve any problem in this community,” Freifelder said.

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Of the 79,000 crimes committed in Miami last year, only two-tenths of 1% involved seniors. But crimes against the elderly created a sense of outrage and opened the door for the program.

About 150 students from three inner-city high schools will be linked with two senior housing complexes, a senior community center and a downtown church to survey seniors about crime and suggest solutions.

One of the program’s biggest achievements would be to eliminate a widely expressed fear among the elderly of teen-agers--all teen-agers.

Page has known the unwillingness of seniors to accept teen-age strangers, but he considers that a minor setback.

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“One of the reasons why there’s resistance is that a lot of time it’s hard for people to believe that somebody cares,” the 18-year-old said.

But he sees the generation gap as a misunderstanding that can be resolved.

In the first stage of the one-year project, teen-agers will be matched with a designated group of seniors in their neighborhoods to meet regularly and draft crime-prevention plans.

“Christmas is a time when kids tell Santa what they want and adults pay for it. Deficits are when adults tell the government what they want--and their kids pay for it.”

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--Richard Lamm, former governor of Colorado


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