Opinion: Will the Real Parents Stand Up?

313 kids have been shot since the beginning of the year.  Two of those kids, Kentrell McNeal and Jamari Williams, both students at Simeon High were shot within hours of one another on Tuesday.  They join the rising number of 37 kids killed in murders in 2021.

Social media hoaxes have flooded the internet with sites proclaiming which school is next, sending parents into a frenzy, keeping their kids home from school or running to schools to get their kids.  This is madness.  When does it end? We can talk about the social-economic ills that contribute to violence, but we must turn to our first line of defense when it comes to our children-THE PARENTS!

There is no excuse not to know where your children are at all times.  We ask this time and time again, where are the parents? Are you monitoring your children’s use of social media? The time for excuses is gone. Our children are killing and being killed. How many more of our children must die or become trapped in the criminal justice system for us to care enough to put in the extra effort that comes with raising children in these perilous times?

Trust me, I get it. I’m a stressed overworked single mom raising two teens and one young adult.  I’m all over the place most days with phone calls, interviews, and job responsibilities in addition to managing a household and attempting to have a social life. However, these three beautiful children are my responsibility first.  It doesn’t matter how exhausted I am, my most important job is to be present for these three black lives entrusted to me.   I must be diligent with parenting my children because the world is ready to chew them up and spit them out.  I’m strict, have firm boundaries of what is allowed and what is not, and I have a rule that I know where they are always, who they are with and how to contact all if something goes wrong.  They are allowed social media but as the one who pays the bills, I reserve the right to grab those phones for a “social media” check at any time. That’s the deal.  They can whine about their privacy when they pay the monthly bill for their phones and internet use.

As parents, we cannot become lax or lazy with our children…especially now.  You know if your kid is prone to violence, skipping school, or hanging out with questionable people. Stop writing kids off saying things like, “I’ve done all I can do”.   The time is now. Step up and into their lives and become a force. Pull in reinforcements if you need to. There are community organizations, school officials, churches, extended family available to help.  If you are struggling as a parent, ask for help!

The village must come together to support, reinforce, and guide our children to keep them safe. Get kids the resources they need if they are struggling, mental health and behavioral services are available no matter what your income is.

I’m tired of seeing kids attending so many funerals, I’m exhausted watching my young teens robbed of a life that should be filled with so many precious memories. Their teenage years are marred with violence and death in addition to racism, sexism, economic disparity, and a global pandemic. These kids are carrying the weights of the world on their shoulders, and we are not paying attention.

Children with parents who care, who are active and involved are suffering because of children with parents that are too busy, too self-involved or too toxic to parent. We adjust what our kids can and cannot do, where our kids are allowed to go and how they are allowed to get there because of children whose parents could care less.  Everyone is affected in a community where children are allowed to operate and exist in complete lawlessness.

Most of us were raised better than this.  Raised to respect human life, raised to work hard to achieve success and more importantly, most of us were raised by a village (grandparents, cousins, uncles/aunties, and neighbors).  We had adults watching out for us, guiding us and correcting us, even when we hated it.  It’s that “old school” of thought that raised me and gave me a blueprint to raise my own children.  Where did we lose that and why?

It’s time to hold parents accountable.   Raise your kids, watch your kids, get your kids involved in something other than themselves and material things, spend time with your kids and know your kids so well that you know where they are, what they are doing and what they need. If your kid is involved in something you know they have no business involved in, it’s time to turn them in. Get them help so they can turn their lives around.

Our entire community is suffering due to a lack of parenting.  It’s time for the real parents to step up.

Danielle Sanders is a journalist and writer living in Chicago. Find her on social media @DanieSanders20 and @DanieSandersOfficial.

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