To stop violence, start parenting

Published 8:16 pm Monday, August 16, 2010

Many people were glad to hear of the NAACP local chapter’s plans to host a meeting tonight to address the number of crimes perpetrated by and against Suffolk youth lately.

In addition to three murders of Suffolk residents since January, in which all the victims and arrested suspects were age 25 or below, a number of other crimes locally in recent months have involved possible offenders as young as 12.

It seems that the problem is growing, and the NAACP’s Youth Council is leading an effort to find a “short-term solution” to stanch the bloodshed.

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“The urgency of the situation calls for immediate action,” chapter president Charles S. Gates said.

Many comments on this paper’s website complain that there is nothing for youth in Suffolk to do, so they resort to violence. If the city would just provide more opportunities for kids, adults say, there wouldn’t be so much crime.

Though the problem of youth violence is multi-faceted, I don’t buy the argument that young people are shooting each other because they are bored.

The problem, in my view, starts with parents who aren’t doing their job. They either don’t make or don’t enforce rules governing where their children are, whom they’re with and when they are required to be home. They don’t get to know their children’s friends and those friends’ parents. They don’t instill values and morals from a young age.

The parents need to get on the ball, and not just for the sake of their own children’s futures. Our entire sense of safety and community is rocked to the core when we have children murdering children on the streets, within spitting distance of elementary schools and residential neighborhoods.

Here’s the bottom line — the city, churches, NAACP and other groups can call all the meetings, build all the parks and host all the events they want. Until the parents start parenting, this problem will continue to fester and tear our community apart.

There are a number of other branches to this problem, I know. Many mothers are doing the best they can as single parents, because the children’s fathers are in jail for crimes very similar to those their children are now perpetrating. It’s a cyclical problem, and at some point that cycle needs to stop if we want to regain control of our community.

Get parenting, folks, before it is too late.