It’s horrible, and should be unthinkable. This tale of two local children is heartbreaking.
A child is playing near the front steps of her house when a bullet fired from down the block hits her in the back. She falls, bleeding, to the sidewalk and dies shortly thereafter. A community rises up in outrage over the loss of this innocent; the normally uncooperative neighborhood shares information with the authorities and an intensive investigation is underway.
Some time passes as the investigation continues; as community members offer rewards; as local churches organize meetings and prayer walks; as mothers keep their children inside, or behind the house. One day the police arrive at a school and arrest a student just 5 years older than the child who was killed. This boy now stands accused of firing the shot that felled a child at play when he is said to have taken a shot at a group of other teenagers on a street full of people one afternoon. He’ll face the consequences for using a gun he and others kept in a hiding place near their homes and shared “in case they needed it.”
A local talk radio host hit the nail on the head yesterday morning, calling the circumstances which produce such random violence a spiritual problem. As he said it, the host commented that he was sure it would cause lots of folks to switch radio channels. I didn’t, because it’s true.
In an environment where
- fathers abandon their children (physically, emotionally and spiritually);
- mothers have little influence over their children’s choices;
- family is who you run the streets with rather than who your born to;
- intervention is only deemed necessary once you’ve run up enough trouble;
- positive potential is so rarely spoken as to be considered ridiculous rhetoric;
- and the only message is “get by or be gotten”
how can it reasonably be expected that these same children can overcome and be something different?
Article after article, study after study tell us that strong families make a difference. When parents are involved in the lives of their children, participate in their education, set boundaries and affect discipline are they are most effective and successful in raising kids who complete education, who stay out of trouble, who see more than the streets have to offer. Even eating a meal together every day has a positive impact. It’s not about money, or programs to keep kids busy. It’s about getting the deathly idiocy out from in front of the leadership microphone and giving people the truth about the ways of the world being toxic, that God was onto something when he put us in families, that we have a responsibility to one another.
Kahtina’s death makes me angry. Jermayne’s arrest makes me angry. The whole scenario is heartbreaking. Their world – the one shared by so many young people – is toxic poison. No more children need to succumb to this poison, but many will if the rest of us don’t do something more than stick band-aids on the symptoms. How do we work together to change the world?