Last week’s column about a fictional 8-year-old boy named Malcolm growing up in a troubled neighborhood and becoming a killer was well received. I wanted to get people thinking about what could’ve been done to help Malcolm choose a different path.
But some wanted to know what we should do about the violence plaguing the city right now. From a law enforcement standpoint, I’ll let police and city officials answer that at next Tuesday’s town hall. But as for us . . .
- Start a Neighborhood Watch program in your area. There don’t have to be weekly meetings. An initial meeting and maybe a block party every six months may be all you need. If your neighbors have each other’s phone numbers and email addresses, it’s easy to keep everyone informed. An organized group calling police and documenting crimes are more eyes and ears for law enforcement.
- Talk to your kids about reporting suspicious and criminal activity. This is a hard one because our culture is heavily weighted against “snitching.” You have to keep talking about it. When our silence can result in someone being injured or killed, we have to report it. If you’ve had a friend or relative shot or killed and you know something about the crime, how can you stay silent?
- Can you name your child’s friends? Do you know your child’s whereabouts? If necessary, search their rooms. I know some parents feel that teens should have privacy, but the way I see it is their (and others’) health and safety trumps privacy.
- Parents are so important to the solution because much of the violent crime we’re seeing is with young people. I used to know a woman who had one son in prison and two others involved in gangs. Whenever her kids got in trouble, it was always the teachers’ fault or the police’s fault. That kind of “parenting” is killing us.
On the other hand, I know a single mother who struggles every day with her teenage son trying to make sure he goes to school and stays out of trouble. It’s hard on her but I admire her for fighting that fight.
By the way, where are the fathers?
- For trouble with neighbors causing disturbances, loud parties (which can lead to fights and worse) and drug dealing, you should document your calls to police. Contact the landlord if the property is a rental. If problems persist and the landlord isn’t willing to rectify it or evict the problem tenants, take the owner to small-claims court. The city is doing this on a much larger scale but you can do it individually or with your watch group.
- Business owners might consider hiring some young person from a troubled area who wants to change his life.
- If you belong to a church, then get them involved in troubled neighborhoods. Liberty Church, St. Mark’s Lutheran and Larry Bluford’s Operation THUGS are just a few of the churches and organizations involved in helping residents in hot spots. There are many others and there’s room for more.
- Lastly, leave your gun at home. When people feel unsafe, there’s a strong urge to flout the law and carry a concealed weapon. Your home is one thing. But the last thing we need is more guns illegally on the street in the hands of scared people. Peace.
Kelvin Wade is the author of “Morsels” Vols. I and II and lives in Fairfield. Email him at [email protected]