It is rare for parents to come forward when their child has been accused of a horrendous crime. When the child is named, because the parents’ names are usually different, it’s not easy to connect the two. 

However in the recent case involving the death of Jaquan Swopes, every mother of the teens involved has spoken to the media. Jaquan was the 14-year-old who was shot in the head by a homeowner up in Lake County as he and four of his cousins along with a friend are alleged to have tried to steal a car. The Lake County prosecutor has opted to use a 200-year-old law to charge them as adults with first-degree murder in his death. Those teens are facing 20-60 years in prison; they’re being held on a million-dollar bond each.

Jaquan’s mother has spoken to the media and she puts the blame for her son’s death solely on the 75-year-old homeowner. But where is her accountability for her young teen son being with his older teen cousins whom she knew had a propensity to steal cars?

The mother of Diamond Davis, 18, and twins Steven and Stacy Davis, 17, was interviewed by CBS news. She said, “They didn’t mean for none of this to happen.” I understand they thought they would “only” be stealing a car. But the reality is that when one goes out to commit such a crime, success is not guaranteed. And the penalties that those three young people are facing is the reality that comes with committing crimes. Also interviewed at the same time was the mother of Kendrix Cooper, 17. She spoke about how he is reliving that night constantly. She said, “I just hope when they do get out of jail, they think about all the things that led up to this situation.” I hope as mothers those two are thinking about all the things they didn’t do to discourage their children from becoming involved in such a situation.

The mother of the fifth teen, Curtis Dawson Jr., 16, said, “I am not going to say my son is a saint but this … he’s going to spend the rest of his life in jail for something he didn’t do. I have been crying a lot.” 

At the same time, she admits that her son left the house Monday afternoon and she didn’t learn what happened until police called her the next morning at 7 a.m. Since all kids have cellphones, where is her constant contact with her minor child?

We have a crisis going on in the black community. That crisis is one where everybody tries to find the external thing or person to blame instead of doing some self-reflection. Mothers don’t ever look at themselves and say, “I have failed as a parent. I didn’t do what I should have done to steer my child correctly. And when my child has gone astray, I have to admit that they have to pay the consequences.”

Until we, as a community and society, begin to address the wayward mindset of parents, we will continue to get these young people who will do stupid things that could lead to somebody’s death. Had those young people gotten to that 75-year-old homeowner, he might not have been here today to tell the story.

A final interesting note. Not one of the mothers has been reported as having said anything about raising money to get their child out of jail.