Luis Rodriguez Always Running La Vida Loca, gets it right about growing up inner city. When he was ten, his best friend died when being chased by police (an accident).
Before he was 18, Luis had seen 25 of his friends killed by violence. From 1990 to 1998 6000 LA youth died in gang related violence.
Rodriguez writes that “Gangs flourish where there’s a lack of recreation, education, or employment”.
Our nation’s continued focus on punishment over accommodation/compassion for children has created the largest prison population in the world (over 2 million-add to that juvenile justice/child protection/probation/parole, and the numbers are staggering).
Criminalizing youth that society spurns & declaring them the enemy brings huge costs and great pain to the community and the families involved.
Minneapolis MN arrested 44% of its adult black men in 2001 (no duplicate arrests – 58% of those men went on to be rearrested for a second crime within two years).
Each large American community has its own truths and statistics relating to youth well-being (or non-well-being).
America leads the industrial world in teen aged STD’s, violent crime, preteen moms, child mortality, child poverty, child abuse deaths, and youth tried as adults (25%).
The police and the courts are not equipped to solve these problems.
It is up to communities to understand the nature and scope of these issues and treat children with sufficient care and resources to end the madness as stated by MN Supreme Court Chief Justice Kathleen Blatz; “The difference between that poor child and a felon is about eight years”.
Let’s all get behind child friendly programs and politics and end the pipeline to prison & preteen pregnancies that America now promotes.
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