if i haven't told you already, i love this man. highly recommended reading.
i can relate to the commenter who said when they were in middle/high school, their parents' reach extended much farther than the walls of the house. same here. not only would it have been considered unthinkable for me to act a fool in front of adults, but i never knew who might see me.
people knew my parents. whether it was because i looked like my father's folks, or my mom's connections with the school system, it was known that i wasn't to do anything that i didn't want reported back, 'cause folks knew folks.
increasingly, that's not the case.
to some degree, that phenom is more likely to occur in the 'hood than the suburbs. but still. folks don't know their neighbors anymore. gentrification has changed the game. so has the ultra-mobile workforce.
we also have to remember that many of these babies have been on their own for years.
there are AIDS orphans in this country. there are street children in this country.
for every seemingly intact family i see, i can show you at least two kids who have obviously been without substantial, dedicated adult support for quite some time.
honestly? i can't blame some of them, because many of them have never seen or known an adult they can respect. not one. families are depressed, overworked, and cracked out. schools are falling apart. politicians lie, use for photo ops, and bounce. rec centers and community gathering places are losing funding and closing in droves.
so, they test us all. their anger and lack of love and self respect is visited on strangers. a little something to project the pain.
and we all know there's no shortage of prisons for them. maybe that has something to do with the lack of programs and resources?
please don't think i'm saying all this because i feel like i'm better than anyone else. i see them and stay out of their way; i observe, but quietly. once or twice i've engaged a young person in a bit of conversation, but most of the time i hang back. i don't want to pull rank on the wrong one--the one with something to prove, or the one just angry enough to punch me solely to watch me bleed.
even so, i refuse to damn all of these kids. some of them will grow up and see the error of their ways. a mentor will come along. maybe a good therapist or counselor, a life-changing movie or book. for some of these kids, a light will come on.
but for others, it won't. they won't see better, know better, or do better. for any number of reasons.
those are the ones we'll pay for, whether we want to or not, whether we like it or not.