Breakdown of family structure contributes to student violence

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    Children aren’t born killers, but their home lives can have an immeasurable impact on whether they choose a gun or another means to express their anger.

    Children aren’t born killers, but their home lives can have an immeasurable impact on whether they choose a gun or another means to express their anger.

    In Chicago in the last two school years, more than 50 students have been shot to death, primarily at the hands of their peers.

    Many, including Dr. Alvin Poussaint, internationally renowned Harvard psychiatrist, and expert on African American behavior, believe how the child is reared determines the individual coping skills a child who is repeatedly beaten will likely transfer those beatings into a rage — sometimes a fatal one.

    Poussaint’s theories are shared in part by Reg, Weaver, president of the National Education Association and Illinois U.S. Rep. Danny K. Davis (D-7th).

    Poussaint explained that when looking at student violence it is obvious some students have a lot of rage and it is imperative to determine where it came from.

    “If you look at the violent offender, you will see a lot of them come from homes where they have been victims of child abuse and neglect.

    “They have been treated violently every since they were tots. Beating kids a lot creates violent children who are more likely to be violent,, more likely to be angry at their parents,.”

    He noted that in many cases there is no father in the home or in these young men’s lives. Poussaint added, “When they boys kill each, they are killing males and have a lot of anger toward males, and some of this is because they don’t have fathers in their lives.” He said fathers are the authority figures, and without them many young Black men have no respect for any authority.

    The beatings and lack of nurturing and caring for the child, especially at an early age sends the message that the child is not important so there is no need to value self or other people.

    Weaver described the problem as systematic noting “many of the parents have to work two or three jobs to make ends meet, which means they don’t have the time for their kids, which means the kids will find someone else to give them the attention they need, and that is often in gangs, and it is attention that we might not always like.

    “Some of the initiation that these gang members have is to take someone out, or they have to do exactly what happened on Friday.” Weaver’s reference was to the fatal shooting of 18-year- Ruben Ivy at Crane High School March 7.

    A Danville, Ill. native, Weaver earned his master’s degree from Roosevelt University.

    Davis noted, “In many instances it (behavior) got out of hand and the discipline broke down from early childhood, especially with the boys, but increasingly with the girls.

    “People let boys do what they want to do, especially growing up. They get to thinking they can do whatever the hell they want to do, since they started throwing temper tantrums at six months old.”

    Davis, who has been a Chicago alderman and Cook County Commissioner prior to be elected to Congress 12 years ago, offered that in past generations positive behavior was encouraged in the homes “and it got reinforced everyplace else you went and ultimately it curbed your behavior to the extent that there were certain things acceptable and other things were not.”

    Recently, among the category of not acceptables have been murders %uFFFD 34 young people slain during the 2006-07 school year and another 16 killed, including last Friday’s shooting at Crane High School.

    Nationally, crime in our school is not new. Between 2000 and 2005, 3.3 per cent of all criminal activities occurred in schools. That translates into 619, 453 incidents over that five year period, according to a 2007 Federal Bureau of Investigation report titled “Crime in Schools and Colleges: A Study of Offenders and Arrestees Reported via National Incident-Based Reporting System Data.

    Weaver said the dynamics of a community can promulgate the seeds of bad behavior. He added that students need to be in environments that are “safe and orderly” so they can perform well. “When you make your school safe and orderly, you don’t have to worry about the kinds of things like we had last Friday.”

    The second term NEA president explained that the root of bad behavior is overlooked. He used the example of an unemployed parent who can’t provide for his or her family and that parent has an inferiority complex. He said the inferiority complex results in bad behavior and that behavior is passed on and carried out by the child. “Look at where kids come from. Look at their home lives and whether there has been some degree of success in their families,” he said.

    Poussaint added, “We must ask ourselves why guns are so plentiful. It is a community problem, a city problem, and a law enforcement problem. The availability of firearms is destroying America.”

    Davis said there is not enough of what he calls the “socialization process,” to help children succeed.

    The congressman said a emphasis on non-violent conflict resolution is essential to changing things in our schools.

    He explained that in the Black community children don’t learn Christianity like they used to, nor are they required to attend church like children of past generations. “Many of our kids don’t have a pair of leather shoes, or one stitch of clothing” that is suitable to wear to church. “The level of deprivation from a social vantage point is so much greater than many people think, and I guess if people don’t interact enough at that level to it, they just don’t know that that is not the way it is.”

    Davis’ solution, along with other members of Congress, including U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, is the “responsible childhood bill” legislation that provides for self development, employment training and

    Weaver said it is imperative that the Black community work to get children to value education and understand how important it is to their future. “If people don’t understand the importance of something, they won’t do it,” he said.

    Poussaint said he would like to see parenting classes offered in schools. “We have to start with saying (to parents) you have to do right by every child and give them what they need to feel to help them feel loved and cared for. Even teen aged mothers need to understand that.”

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