This past summer has been an unusually violent season for our city with multiple shootings and murders that have not only occupied our newspaper’s headlines, but also our thoughts, conversations and prayers. Violence in any form is unacceptable, but this particular kind of neighborhood terrorism is insidious as it seems random and cruelly indiscriminate.
There is nothing in this world more powerful and transformative than a morally grounded, well-educated, self-sufficient young man or woman who can clearly see a future of hope and opportunity.
I believe our Police Department as well as our High Point Community Against Violence group have responded swiftly and professionally. This has yielded immediate and decisive results; however, we must take a long, hard look at this trend of young people committing violent capital crimes with what appears to be a total disregard for the consequences. This behavior points to a growing lack of hope and a complete disdain for the sanctity of life. Ultimately this violence will only be eliminated by going back to the traditional values which made this country great—moral character, personal responsibility, respect for authority, caring for our neighbors, strong families and a commitment to raising well-educated and self-sufficient young people.
The family unit, for too many in our community, is broken and desperately needs to be restored. We have too many single mothers raising children on their own and not enough positive male role-models investing in the lives of our boys. If we don’t start placing men of character into these boys’ lives there are criminals here in High Point who will gladly do so for their own personal gain. Children who have been nurtured and can see a brighter future do not join gangs, they don’t carry guns, they control their anger and they are not driven by a false sense of street respect, or the blood money that is earned from the drug trade and gang life.
The single most reliable indicator of future success is the ability to read by the end of third grade. This benchmark has to become a top priority in all of our elementary schools and in our homes. We need strong, universally available Pre-K programs so every child starts school on a level playing field. We must surround our at-risk students and their parents with resources to help them successfully navigate the 12 years of public education. We have to support and expand after-school tutoring programs, summer enrichment programs and insure all of our students are eating properly, as hungry kids do not engage in the classroom. For most of our at-risk young people the greatest challenges they will face in their education are the myriad of challenges outside the classroom which too often keep them from learning and thriving.
We must understand how high the stakes are in this battle for our children’s hearts and minds and embrace our sacred obligation to protect, guide and create an environment in which all children can reach their highest academic potential. How can you personally help? Get engaged in our local schools, become a mentor to a child who has no guiding influences in their lives, offer to read in our elementary schools and support the establishment of these all-important student/parent community resources.
There is nothing in this world more powerful and transformative than a morally grounded, well-educated, self-sufficient young man or woman who can clearly see a future of hope and opportunity. This is how we defeat the violence, the gangs and the drugs, through the gift of education, self-reliance and opportunity.