Perhaps kids had rights when I was young, but someone failed to inform us. Our parents spoke. We listened and obeyed. If we didn’t, Dad’s razor strap showed us how to listen next time. Dad worked. Mom stayed home. School wasn’t an option. Hard work was a way of life. Dinner together was a nightly event.
The end result was that the investment our parents made in us paid off. We are their living legacy.
Life was fairly simple compared to the complexity of today’s society. My Mom talked regularly with the Principal, our neighbors had the authority to punish us, and elected leaders sat around our kitchen table getting personally involved in our lives. They were simpler and happier times.
Today, we have more single parents than in the history of the world. They hold down two jobs, send the kids to daycare, buy dinner at the take-out, and have surmounting debt. All of this, under the umbrella of worry should something happen if a catastrophic illness beset them because healthcare is not affordable.
Worst yet, in some households, juveniles are running in the streets instead of sitting in classrooms. Real guns have replaced slingshots and Mary Jane is no longer a candy, it’s the entry ticket to a world of endless drugs pouring into our neighborhoods at epic proportions.
Oh, how I long for the simplicity of yesterday in the neighborhoods of the Red Stick. The difference began at home, and continued through the personal touch of leaders in our community.
The Joneses were watching after our children, and not someone we were trying to keep up with. The Gautreaux’s weren’t trying to figure out who Daddy is sleeping with this time, because his legacy and family were far more important than anything another woman could offer.
If violent crime has increased and juvenile offenders are more prolific in the Red Stick, we need to walk down memory lane and understand what has changed to cause these phenomena.
Juveniles are extremely vulnerable.
We must reach children prior to the 7th grade to influence them. In these formative years, they learn how to relate to others, the consequences of their actions, and what responsibility means.
While we are moving in the right direction by addressing truancy, there are other factors that require attention including teenage pregnancy, broken homes, absentee parents, and a lack of after-school activities that are appropriate. Risky behavior eventually escalates into aggressive or violent behavior.
Law enforcement doesn’t need bigger prisons; they need engaged parents, stronger laws, tougher judges, caring neighbors and employers willing to hire students for part-time jobs. Time out doesn’t work for kid’s carrying around guns.
In order to take back our neighborhoods, we have to return to our roots. Instead of turning a blind eye to what is going on, we need to clean up in our own backyard and spend time investing in what really matters — our youth.
To be America’s next greatest city, we have to work with our young people and families to get them on the right track.
We need our leaders to throw off their double-breasted suits and body guards and go back into neighborhoods, roll up their sleeves and sit around kitchen tables working one-on-one with parents who need guidance. When our leaders are willing to set these examples, then we will begin to see a change.
Everything comes back to where we are investing our time and money.
It is a fact that we spend money and time on what is important to each of us. When I review the City-Parish budget, I know that we need vast improvement.
Last year’s proposed tax increase/bond issue proves we are seeking to invest further funds in buildings and not in people. We don’t need new hotels, tourist attractions and parking lots, we need money and time invested in our at-risk youth.
There is no argument that can win against investing time or money in our youth.
Juveniles may not listen to everything we say, but they are always watching what we do. What are we doing to influence our youth in a positive way?
Until next time,
Red Stick Republican