The acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree. That’s one of the first things that came to mind after hearing of the latest killings of young black children by other young black children on the West Side over the past couple of weeks. From the murder of Kadeidrah Lynn Marsh to the murder of Ruben Ivy, there must be something wrong in the families of the individuals who murdered them.
How many of us can look at our blocks, neighbors and friends and see in their children the makings of a future criminal? How many of us know uncontrollable children being raised by out-of-control or unconcerned adults? How many of us are shocked when certain young people end up on the wrong side of the law-especially when we watched them grow up being the “bad kid on the block”?
Yet even though it is the easiest thing in the world to blame the families, we must, as a neighborhood and community, step up to the plate regarding our involvement or lack thereof in the lives of those children who end up being the local neighborhood terrorist. When we sit on our buns and don’t do a damn thing, we are just as much to blame as the child who pulls the trigger.
I remember several years ago being at the park and having some smart-mouth young boys give me grief. It was almost 9 p.m. and they were still outside, as if they didn’t have a care in the world. What one of the boys didn’t know is that I knew his grandmother. I knew her to be a religious woman who didn’t take a lot of nonsense. Yet here it was late at night and her grandson was out at a time when I felt he should have been home. When I mentioned my encounter with her grandson, she was appreciative to hear about his behavior. Yet in the back of my mind, I wondered why in the world would she have permitted him to be out so late?
How many people are open to hearing that they need to get a grip on their children and grandchildren? Most of us don’t want to hear or be criticized for the method and manner in which we raise our children. My friend did listen to what I said about her grandson, but it was a slippery slope. One misstep in what I was saying could lead her from nodding in agreement to defending her child and telling me off for not “minding my own business.”
Part of the problem, as I see it, is that we have good people trying to raise children, but they are at the same time tired and overwhelmed. As a community, we have for far too long accepted the “single mama” or “grandmother” raising-of-children concept.
At the same time, we have accepted the irresponsibility of men who father children and don’t stick around to raise them. We are failing to acknowledge how much the world has changed and the difficulty and exhaustion caused by raising children in the 21st century. Whereas there was a time when we could, by words alone, instill “the fear of God” in our children, society has now done its part to tell our children if we whip them or threaten to whip them, they can call DCFS and be protected.
A few weeks back, I wrote about our state legislators patting themselves on the back for instituting “a moment of silence” in school. At that time, I wrote we needed a corresponding and mandatory class called “the consequences of your actions.” The recent murders show that our young people are acting without thinking. Then their parent will claim their child is a “good child.” But that “good child” didn’t think. They didn’t pause for one second and say to themselves, “If I shoot and kill this other person, I will go to jail. I will get locked up and be a murderer. I will cause grief to my family and to the family of the person I killed.” Becoming “scared” after the fact doesn’t change the reality that the young person is now a murderer. Praying to God once they have done their dirty deed isn’t the same as praying to God before they act and asking him to show them a different path.
If we, as parents, are to be successful, we need to begin to reiterate to our children that they must “THINK!” They must know and acknowledge that for every action, there is a reaction. If you touch a hot stove, you will get burned. If you shoot and kill someone, you will go to jail and possibly the electric chair. Illinois currently only has a moratorium on the death penalty. We haven’t abolished it.