Another Thought On Breaking The Cycle Of Violence

As I was walking home from work a young lad perhaps 15 or 16 was walking past me with his girlfriend.  This was the one sentence I overheard him say: “I’ll never forget the first time I saw my moms locked up”.  Or something like that.  My God.  I could not imagine my life if my mom had been in jail and in this case on more than one occasion.  There but for the grace of God…   I grew up in New York with my Mom and Dad driving me to soccer games every weekend.  I am who I am now, not because there is anything in my DNA, or because my parents were rich (both civil servants), but because I had fantastic parents who raised me properly and did everything in their means to give me a good childhood.  You know former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak once famously said, if I were born Palestinian I would probably be a terrorist.  And if I had seen my mom locked up I would probably be selling drugs and toting a gun or at least in someway “off track”.  I’m not saying this particular kid is mixed up in the game but I wouldn’t be surprised if that was the case.  On a lesser note, it also makes me think about the littering problem.  If a kid like that is littering what the hell does he care about tossing trash on the ground when his mom is in jail.  Maybe he simply wasn’t taught that littering disrespects his neighborhood.   I’m just saying the incident gave me pause and made me realize it is not fair just to automatically blame the kids who are mixed up in a rough lifestyle, its something to think about.  I suppose this is where mentoring could really help…maybe the only thing that could help.

55 Comment

  • I had a somewhat related experience this morning. One of the houses next to us has been vacant (not like in the wire) since we moved in 18 months ago. The new tenants who live there have been very nice but sometimes I wonder who is the father, who is the mother, who is the boyfriend, the girlfriend, and maybe who is the spouse. There is an 8 year old and a kid who might be 2.

    So far they’ve been really nice and dinner smells awesome whenever I catch a scent of whatever is cooking.

    Anyway, this morning, domestic violence was on the menu. I don think anyone got hit, but the shouting was fierce. From the best I could gather through the thin walls at 7 am, a woman who lives next door was telling her baby daddy that she didn’t want him coming around anymore, it seemed like because he didn’t have the $ to provide. He didn’t take it so well and words and threats flew back and forth.

    All the while, the 2 year old was out on the porch and I fear the older kid was holed up listening to the craziness.

    I guess I grew up in a PoP-like utopian childhood, but the thought of those poor kids seeing such an awful homelife shook me.

    As bad as it might get…as awful as anything your significant other might do to you someday, there is no reason to ever set such an awful example for your kids. Someone needs to be the bigger adult and give kids the sheltered lives they deserve.

  • Was the 2 year old out on the porch unsupervised? I have a 1 year old and 3 year old. Lord knows that my 1 year old probably would have taken a header down the steps and my 3 year old would be wandering around all by herself. Did you help the child, let the parents know the child was outside or call 311? I understand that it was a difficult situation and I’m not trying to turn this around on you, but I know I would flip out if I saw a 2 year old alone outside.

    I used to teach for the city schools in Hampton, VA. We had MANY students whose basic needs were not being met – not enough food, no clothes, no clean clothes, 10 people living in a 2 bedroom apt, etc… It is VERY difficult for these kids to focus on school let alone social graces.

  • Welcome to the world of dysfunctional adults having children that ultimately turn into dysfunctional adults. Even if the 2 year old was supervised, who was she being supervised by? See how deep this issue goes? And how difficult it will be for any measures to offset the home environment. This technically is not child abuse. So what can be done here? We just have to wait until one of these kids follows the probable path of becoming a statistic.

    Without knowing much about this case, there are a host of issues. How about the woman having children by a man with no means to support them? I’d hate to have my child in a classroom with a kid exposed to that level of discord at such an early age. The two year old will soon enough be school age. And guess how she is going to react when faced with a conflict in school: just like his/her mother. That is why people of means refuse to send their kids to school with people like this.

  • Here we go again! Good stuff. Sometimes I think it is the kids who wind up running these households if you can call them that.

    Question for Nathan. In the previous discussion you mentioned that these folks often rent from you. This is just a question becuase I am curious now – but why do you rent to them? Do you have to? We talked about accountability – could you refuse to rent to someone with a criminal record (that is probably rather niave – it might be hard finding people w/o records)?

    These discussion make me question how long I will live in the City. If and when my wife and I have kids – we would certainly have to move before they became school aged, presuming things don’t improve. Do others feel the same way?

  • I had the pleasure of working as a poet in the schools for a well-known DC not too long ago. In addition to working with student poetry, we were using ( among other texts) an anthology of poems written by Arab women. Many of the students picked up on the similarities between those poems addressing themes (the “occupied territories” metaphor frequently raised its head) not so far removed
    from their existence.
    My point is that while I am often frustrated with the behavior of some young ( and not so young) folks-I know the causes of some of said behavior is deeper than a
    “pull up your jeans and learn to speak the King’s English” panacea.
    The question is whether this society considers these social cancers more important
    than our Ipods and double skim soy lattes..

  • I have to disagree with Reuben’s implication that the root of these problems lies with societiy’s misplaced priorities. The root of the problem lies with the failure of these parents to provide a stable and nurturing home environment for their kids. No amount of government intervention will replace two loving parents. Anything else we do, be it curfews, gun bans, increased police presence, or banning single-sale beers, only puts a band-aid on the underlying problem.

  • I’m guessing it was the 8 year old who was “supervising” the 2 year old. The “these parents need to take responsibility” argument only goes so far with me. These parents were raised in the same or worse circumstances that they are putting their children in. There is no responsible parenting fairy god mother who lays her magic want on children when they hit sexual maturity. Just as this 8 year old is by no means capable of parenting this2 year old, many people who have children are really not capable of parenting, despite their age (or lack of). So- while I totally agree that parents are the ones responsible for raising productive members of society, our society and community has to accept the fact that we have a whole lot of parents who are quite frankly, not equipped for the job. That’s where it becomes our society’s problem, and our responsibility as well.

    I’m not suggesting this is a problem that can be fixed easily, but there are tons of small things people can do to help. Be a mentor, volunteer at a school or rec center, demand accountability in the schools (whether or not you have children), heck, go to a high school sporting event and cheer obnoxiously.

  • Steve – I am interested in why you say you would certainly have to move if/and/or when your “future” kids would be getting to school? I have two boys one of which is now in Pre-K at Bancroft. He really likes it and so far the experience has been good. Granted I know its only Pre-K but it’s a good start. We debated about what we were going to do about schools once he got old enough but we knew that there was no chance at all that we would go the private school route – no way in hell I could pay for that, nor would I want to. And we both do not want to move. I mean, c’mon, I pay for the schools, no matter how crappy they are run and now I have a real interest in what is good about them and in how to deal with the bad about them. And I guess that I feel like the perception that “we gotta get out here cause the schools suck” is just helping to make the schools suck even more. It’s not that I have any desire to be an “urban pioneer”, it’s more that…well, I want the school system to help teach my kid how to function in various social situations, how to read and do some math, and in my sons case, Spanish (he is in Spanish immersion) but I have no expectation that the DC school system, or any school system, is going to be able to do what we as parents should do first and foremost – and that is teach my son how to abide by the Social Contract that we must accept to function and thrive in a society. It seems that a lot of the kids in this city and across the country have little or no interest in this responsibility. We have created a culture that respects only the famous, the rich and the powerful and takes the rungs off the bottom of the class ladder. It seems that often all this kids and we as adults, aspire to is fame, wealth and some misguided notion of respect. Respect is earned via action and responsibility not entitlement – either through wealth or through class and race. Everywhere you look in pop culture there is someone brandishing a gun, a sexy gun, with a sexy girl in tow and shooting their way to respect – “Say Hello to my little Friend”, “Thug 4 life”, Mr. Pink and Mr. Blonde, etc. It seems we are drunk on violence and joy through consumption. Ok, I am not naive enough to believe that it’s all the medias fault cause, well, we are the media…we buy it…if nobody bought it, “they” wouldn’t sell it. If we really hate this violence and injustice shouldn’t we say enough is enough and make that change. Oh hell, I know it isn’t easy..or even that it will improve but thats part of the Contract as well…action, not words. I hate to sound holier than thou…I’m not…I don’t mentor, I don’t volunteer, I don’t attend many meetings but I do believe that the individual has the obligation to do what they can on a personal level and I feel like I try.

  • Yeah, Nathan. I followed your comments on the other recent discussion. While it is commendable that you rent to section 8 folks, do you do YOUR due diligence when choosing who to rent to? As Steve mentioned, you can sceen prospectve tenenats for criminal histories, credit checks, etc. You can also enforce the terms of the lease that allows only those on the lease to live there. On our block we had a number of out of state landlords who didn’t do this and the tenants and their children caused havoc on the block. residents were very offended that the landlords seemed to do zero screening and just wanted to collect $ from DCHA and could care less how their rental properties were run and the impact on the block. With such a huge waiting list for section 8 housing, it seems only fair (for tenants and tax payers) that the tenants with the best backgrounds get rented to first. Of course this only works if Landlords screen tenants (just like market rate tenants get screened by landlords)

    Since you are here and most of the absentee landlords never show their faces, it would be nice to get your perspective on your business.

  • Tim – I am glad your child is going to a DC school. I would think that he will learn important lessons about how to treat other people in these formative years. But after reading the Washington Post piece about the DC schools a couple of week ago, I would be very concerned about simple ability to learn. The picture painted, granted through the proverbial media soda straw is of a near chaos with a small handfull of students who want to learn and teachers who have a hard time caring. Granted that would be years off for us, but it is something to think about. My sister and I had the experience of going to a very small school on a very remote Military installation in Utah for 3 years, then moving to Fairfax County. We were both at least 2 years behind in where we needed to be in math, science and reading. I was in High School, my sister in elementy school. Mind you these schools were functioning pretty well comapred to DC.

    That said. Your experience could be a new leaf being turned. I don’t know. Do you stay and fight for change or do you move. Its a tough call. Glad I don’t have to do it now. We all need to be demanding change. This is our neighborhood now. If the city leaders don’t get the message we need to vote with our feet and take our valuable dollars money with us.

  • Nathan – My questions were not intended to be accusitory in any way. I am really just curious. I don’t know the answers. I am sorry if it looked like finger pointing. This discussion can’t do that and I apoligize if I came across that way.

  • I agree that when parents fail to raise their kids right, it becomes our problem, but it does NOT become our responsibility. The responsibility MUST remain with the parents. Whenever someone falls behind in paying the bills, should someone else become responsible for paying them simply because they are in a better position to pay them? Of course not. Certainly, there are things one could do to help the debtor handle his financial situation, just like there are things that society can and should do to help parents raise their kids, but the ultimate responsibility for making sure “the bills get paid” MUST remain with the parents. They must be held accountable.

  • Yeah, Mybe my post cae across to Accusitory too, but honestly Nathan, I’d like to get your view on this.

  • My favorite subject is back, thanks PoP! I was leaving work on Tuesday night (a shelter for homeless families in Columbia Heights) and I made my rounds throughout the building to check on the volunteers before I left. Oh how I wished everyone who read this blog could have been here to see what I saw. About seven kids in child care were playing games or coloring with volunteers. Upstairs in the computer lab, under volunteer supervision, about 8 teenage boys were playing on the computer; one of them accidentally turned up the volume on some go go music and very quickly turned it off and looked at me obviously embarrassed. I was still at work this late because a new mentor came by to talk to his mentee about their next outing; they are going to watch Brazilian dance/martial arts on Saturday and were pretty excited. Tragically, nearly 100% of these kids can barely read or do multiplication tables, their moms are frequently on drugs and fathers are absent. Homeless children, according to a 1999 report by the National Center on Family Homelessness, have four times the rate of developmental delays, double the number of learning disabilities, and three times as many emotional and behavioral problems. I’m always surprised more of them don’t end up being thugs considering there are over 1,000 homeless children in DC alone! And PoP you are right, volunteering, mentoring, tutoring, providing child care, anything you can do for just a couple hours a week to create a space of normalcy in these kids’ lives makes a difference. Some organizations to check out: Project Northstar, Martha’s Table, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Greater DC Cares, Higher Achievement, The Homeless Children’s Playtime Project, Latin American Youth Center, Community of Hope, and the list goes on.

  • Thank you Otis Gal, for the concrete suggestion and places to start!!

    PoP…. wouldn’t it be cool if, in addition to highlighting various new restaurants and businesses, some of these organizations who were working in the community (and could possibly use volunteers) got a write-up??

  • Parkwood Person – that’s a great idea. PoP could take a photo and then invite those who run it to give their shtick, and then join the blog discussion for the day. But don’t stop with the other great stuff – photos highlighting new restaurants and businesses – that rocks!

  • Are there missing posts on here? I’m seeing apologies but don’t see what they’re for.

    I agree that mentoring is a start in getting these kids in the right direction. Just because someone lives in an impoverished and crime-ridden environment it doesn’t mean s/he can’t strive for better things.

  • Prince Of Petworth

    Good idea. Otis gal can you email me directly and I can start with the group you work with? Thanks.

  • I have a theory about this, DC had one of the largest crack booms in the country. 1991 saw the largest number of homicides in DC history, most of them attributed to the crack epidemic.

    In response, congress came down with extremely strict anti-crack laws:

    “A crime involving five grams of crack cocaine carries a mandatory sentence of five years in prison, and 50 grams carries a 10-year penalty. However, it takes 500 and 1,000 grams of powdered cocaine to trigger the same five and 10 year sentences.”

    The prison sentences were unusually harsh, locking up a large amount of people in DC with even longer sentences than those commiting manslaughter, violent robberies, or other violent crimes. 16 years later, the children of DC’s 1990’s crack epidemic are growing up, and after seeing their parents in and out of prison for violating drug laws, a life of crime is all they know.

    Just a theory…

  • Steve,
    I rent to mainly low income people. The government pays the majority of the rent. Why do I rent to these people? Well, the gov’t pays above market rents. Of the tenants I have, only one has been a bad tenant. Others have simply been bad parents. I don’t care what kind of parents they are. Even if I did, how would I know? Parenting skills dosn’t exactly convey on a rental application. Now, your question would likely be taken as insensitive to a lot of thin skinned black people. What? You don’t want these people living in DC? But I know where you are coming from. I don’t want these people in my neighborhood either. In NW, I won’t even take their application. That’s not fair, I know. But that’s life.

    In the case where I had the bad tenant, she was an existing tenant in a building I bought. As bad as she was a tenant, she was a much worse parent. Her children consisted of 3 dropouts. One molested an 11 year old girl. One was later caught selling drugs in the home. Now consider this: the molester was allowed to live in this household with young kids of his own as well as his brothers’ kids. Yep, someone had a baby by a registered sex offender. Someone also had a baby by the other two unemplyoyed sons as well. Incredulous, I know! It opened my eyes to how irreversible the situation in the black community is. I called child abuse hotline after I saw one of the grandkids getting dialysis in a filthy (so filthy DCRA wrote the tenant a citation) home while people were smoking weed, cigarettes, etc. There was no heat in the apartment. How do you feed kids with no heat? How do you keep them warm in the winter? Child Abuse came and went. Nothing was ever done. So much for me risking my life reporting the matter.

    One of my better tenants is the tenant that lives in the basement with her boyfriend while her young kids live upstairs. I can’t count how many times he has been in and out of the DC jail. But since he doesn’t work, he ”babysits” the kids while she is in “college”. This is a welfare hustle that the more intelligent welfare women use. This lady can’t be more than 35 years old. She wants to live her life without kids in the way. I can’t blame her for that. I blame her for having kids too soon. Good luck running into them when they grow up after having spent years raising themselves on their own. Is this child abuse? Hardly. Is it bad parenting? You be the judge. But I tell you black people don’t want this dirty laundry aired. I see the little gangsters in their cribs now. Sure some may buck the trend. But a child (all black males in both of these cases) growing up directionless is headed for trouble if you ask me.

    If you notice, none of my tenants are criminals. In the case where they become criminals, the DCHA does a good job of putting them off the program. Sec 8 is a form of welfare. You can’t be a recipient with a drug or felony conviction. By the way, I am not an absentee landlord. That is an issue in many poor communities. But that is not my issue.

    As a defense for absentee landlords and slumlords, few people get in this to be a slumlord. There are just as many slum tenants. And once you make a mistake and rent to one, DC gov’t does a good job of putting you through the wringer to get rid of them. Yet, I rarely hear anyone talk bad about slum tenants.

  • Parkwood Person:
    I volunteer with College Bound. This is for kids in grades 8-12, so it assumes they’ve survived to that age with relatively good grades and outlook. But when it comes time to write college essays, for instance on the topic, “Describe one of your activities and what it has taught you,” a student wrote, “I participated in activity X. I leared how to do activity X and to speak politely with customers. The end.” This is a paraphrase, but it illlustrated to me that even the most motivated students will graduate without writing skills.

  • “Is this child abuse? Hardly.”

    It is neglect, which is in turn child abuse. I’m tired of these sorry people having kids but not taking responsibility to care and love them.

    This TV movie came on the other night called For The Love of a Child, which is based on the story of Yvonne Fedderson and Sara O’Meara (played by Teri Polo and Peri Gilpin), two women who started an organization called Childhelp USA which works towards getting children out of abusive situations and into more nourishing environments. The movie, though having the normal overdramatization of a typical TV movie, hit a nerve with me. Who in their right mind would neglect and abuse a child?

    I linked the organization in the previous paragraph. I want to know if they have a chapter here in the DC area.

  • I looked and they do have a DC chapter. I would love to get involved in this or any other organization that promotes children having safe lives.

  • Thanks for your reply Nathan. I don’t know if I agree with you charecterising it as a”black problem” as you could probably find tenants of other races out there doing the same thing, but I know you’re basically speaking directly about your experiences.

    I just wish the city (DCHA) and Federal gov’t (HUD) recognized the extreme damage section 8 tenants who engage in criminal activity have on a

  • oops, submited too early…

    …on a block. Trying to have a section 8 resident evicted for criminal activity is almost impossible. It seems the government is caught in a conflict of interest. First, they are being asked to put a family like this out on the street, but they also have a mandate to provide housing. Our expereince was that the DCHA basically didn’t want to deal with it. The landlord seemed to not be interested since they were getting their check from HUD and the neighbors on the block were left to deal with the violent imapct of this house. Furthermore, to add insult to injury, we residents knew we were paying for their rent.

    I want to repeat and make it clear, I’m not talking about baning all section 8 residents, but weeding those out who bring with them a criminal actions. and Sure, it would be great if MPD was able to make arrests for all this illegal stuff, but we found that MPD was unable to make arrests for 99% of the illegal acts (violent and otherwise) we observed. For that reason, it would be great for landlords to do their best to screen their tenants as well as possible before renting to them.

  • Nathan – Thanks for the honest answer. It helps me to understand. Sad thing about those stories is the lost potential. It takes intelligence and enginuity to come up with a hustle and pull it off. I once heard Captain CV Morris. descirbe criminals as some of the brightest people he has come across in the city and what a shame it is that the potential is wasted.

    And its not that I don’t want these people in my neighborhood. I just want people to be held to account for thier actions, understand and try to find the right way. I wish there were opportunites for people to excel who have gotten thier act together. Perphaps that is just the optimist in me.

  • Steve,
    It doesn’t take ingenuity and hustle to sell crack. It takes a willingness to get caught and go to jail, and a healthy dose of laziness. The thought that criminals are somehow bright but misguided is an urban legend. It pisses me off every time I hear it. The vast majority of criminals I have known in my lifetime have not been very smart. Smart people make smart choices. That’s the bottom line. The risk of selling drugs far outweighs the rewards. A smart person would be able to see this. That’s one of the first lessons in business.

    If C.V. Morris said this, then is it any wonder that black community is in the shape it is in? That would mean that the black community is losing some of its brightest people to illegal activity. I find that hard to believe. I’m smart. If dealing drugs were a more tried and true method, I’d be selling drugs.

    In reality, most of the drug dealers in DC live a notch or so above their clientele. And that says all you need to know about these so called “businessmen”. Even if we were to concede they were so smart, that’s only half the battle. Persistence. A willingness to stick to it. Ambition. Being able to resolve conflict. Most of these “hustlers” lack that. The average hood out here on the street looks up to a Rayful Edmonds or a Frank Lucas without realizing these guys have or will spend long stints in prison. How smart is that?

  • I forgot to mention something about DCHA. If you are having issues with residents that you suspect to be on Section 8, you can try calling Investigator Miles. Her number at housing is 202-435-3270. I can’t say it will do you much good as I have dealt with her in the past. She is the investigator that makes sure tenants are in compliance. If you suspect drug dealing, call her and have the addresses. Make it a group effort for maximum effectiveness. She’ll never answer the phone, so be prepared to leave messages.

    Also, if you see someone living in Sec 8 housing get arrested, then you need to find out who was arrested and report to DCHA. The police won’t do this for you. Housing won’t know otherwise. But you will be guaranteed of getting the people thrown off th eprogram if they are arrested for drugs or even raided for drugs. If you are lucky enough to get the police report, you can fax it to 202-435-3368.

    Let me tell you what I did when I first moved to Petworth in 2001. I called the police everyday. Literally. There was a drug dealer hanging on the corner. Drug dealers usually carry guns as the business is risky. So I would call 311 and report I saw the guy with a gun. That will get an immediate response. Hey if you aren’t guilty, the police questioning you should be no big deal.

  • Nathan – Not that I know squat about the drug trade, but I would imagine it takes a bit of thought and intelligence. It is a business. There is compitition, there are regultors (police), there is supply and demand, there are logistics. These are not all simple things. I would think they require nuianced thought. Again not that I know anything, but I would imagine that the bad dealers get weeded out pretty quick – busted or dead!

    The decision they make are just plain stupid to you and me, but could it be that prision just does not look that bad. What do they have to loose? Is it me or do all the “hiphop clothing styles mimic prision grab.

  • Anyone read “Freakonomics”? The guys on the corner are basically earning what they would at McDonald’s. The ones who make any money aren’t visible at that level. It’s a really interesting read if you’re interested. (lots of other subjects too but I thought the chapter about Why drug dealers live with their mom was quite interesting).

  • Nathan, “The risk of selling drugs far outweighs the rewards.” Sure, if you have “vision” and can appreciate the big picture in life. Sometimes I see this perspective as a luxury that was given to me at birth, and that had I been born into a different lot in life my luck might have not been so good.

    If, in a drug dealer’s reality, the above statement were true, they wouldn’t sell drugs either.

    Maybe I’m just blindly optimistic, but I really don’t think drug dealers and hustlers wake up in the morning thinking, “humm… what will I do today to make the world a worse place? How can I hurt someone today?”

    I’d imagine it’s more along the lines of “what am I going to do today to make money?”

    Come to think of it- I’d bet that’s what a lot of rich white people think in the morning too.

    I for one think that some hustlers are pretty sharp. (yeah- and a lot of mental burn outs too- those are probably the ones that get caught a lot). Quick talking, socially connected, creative, able to work around barriers to meet their goals, can read people well. They’d make great sales people.

  • As lazy as the dealers on our block appear to be, they sure do put in the hours. They may shoot the sht out back all day, but they are out every day of the week, at least 10hrs a day, and in all weather. They have even huddled up on a couch with blankets, just like on The Wire. If they could only focus their energy on more productive contributions to the neighborhood.

  • Tee hee. Crime has a literary mystique that far outpaces the reality. Your average hood is not very bright. Certainly corner drug dealers and touts ain’t geniuses or they’d be running a better hustle that makes money with less work — like getting a law degree. The ones that avoid detection do so much more from luck than from guile… oh, and DC they get a healthy boost from no snitchers, absent police, and scared neighbors.

    Americans, all of us, love us some criminals. It’s in our bones. We like the idea of the crafty rogue that lives outside the law and fleeces the man. My ol’ grandma used to wet her pants with glee when she recounted the time Dillinger rode through Toledo, my disdain for the PoPo stems from my daddy’s pure hatred for the 5-0, and I bet I am not alone in listing a Scorsese, Coppola, or DePalma crime film in my top 10 list.

    We don’t need to shake our heads in wonder as to why the lure is there for simple corner boys despite the cold realities, we all have a soft-spot for the crook… hell, thirty percent of the population loves torture, illegal war, and the open and notorious violation of the laws of the United States by the leader of the “free world”.

  • Some people are saying some very frank things, things many people have been thinking but are scared to say out loud or admit. Why do many middle class people avoid sending their kids to the local DCPS? Call me whatever you want, but my children have only one mother and defender (as well as their father, my husband). I don’t want to conduct a social experiment through my children, though I may have been an urban pioneer when we first came to Petworth. I don’t want them in a class with children whose mothers or fathers are criminals, which is what people in jail are, as they have been found guilty of crimes. It’s not the test scores, the class size, the mediocre teachers. And it’s not the children’s color. And it’s not the so-called poverty. Through my work, I know too many children whose fathers are in prison (quite common, yet not in my background). As for having a mother in prison, it is horrible and produces angry children who need help and therapy and mentoring. And I don’t want my kids in their classes. Sorry.

  • If pyschology paid, I think DC would be a great market. Lord knows all of us probably need therapy of one sort or another and surly all have momy issues, but the imagine all of the mental and physical health issues the despair and hoplessness manifests itself in. I don’t think there are enough doctors in the world for this even if there was money to treat everyone. That is a topic for another day!

  • Not to make light of this, but I wonder why there aren’t that many psychologists out here. A lot of lawyers, yes, shrinks, no.

  • Two words…no money! Does Medicaid pay for it? Heck I have a hard time finding a therapist with opening just to take me!

    Maybe the pushers could do a public service and try selling prozac instead of heroin and coke.

  • In the public schools I’m familiar with, it’s quite common for children to have a father (and even a mother) in jail. Many if not most of those children have “issues” that we are aware of in school, more often anger (expressed outward) than depression (inward). One would think there would be counseling groups for these children in school, as there are counselors and so-called school psychologists on staff. But of the schools I’m familiar with, there are no such groups, let alone individual counseling, unless the child receives special ed and counseling is a part of his IEP. The counselors are doing paperwork. And the children are acting out, being disruptive, getting into arguments, fights and not attending to their education. And I’m talking about elementary school children.

  • Toby: Mahatma Gandhi, M.L. King, Jr., Henry David Thoreau, Johnny Cash.

    All went to jail when the gavel fell… are they “criminals”?

  • Golden: Psychologisin’ ain’t easy.

  • And none of them were charged with the kinds of crimes the parents of the children I know were convicted of. I mean assault, drugs, bounced checks. These parents have made horrible life choices and innocent little children are the victims.

  • Johnny Cash shot a man in Reno… just to watch him die.

    Admittedly, that’s not nearly as bad as bouncing checks.

  • This is a common, common mistake, that African-Americans are all criminals because they all suffered in life. It’s not true and is almost racist to think so.

    Many many people go off-track in their lives. I certainly do this a lot. My parents did a lot for me, a WHOLE lot, but they also left a WHOLE lot out which kept a therapist paid for several years. However after the therapist worked me through a lot of that “you think this because your parents did this” after about a year of that she stopped and would repeat all the time, “You know why you feel this way. You see other people who are successful. It’s not that they didn’t have a rough childhood, it’s that they didn’t let their childhood stop them from being successful.”

    And so, then I dealt with my beloved parents and the fact that they made some perfectly stupid decisions in life. And while there was food on the table every day and a car at my disposal and a college savings account, there were also 2 or 3 blackout drunk events and a car wreck and a visit by the cops that didn’t result in an arrest.

    Armchair psychology talks about the inner child and the inner child is interesting if not fascinating. But it’s all bullshit.

    It’s bullshit.

    My therapist let me go for a year analyzing it before she told me I had to work past it and forget about it. And I came to understand that my father was a jerk. He’s my father, but I don’t have to listen to what he says and I don’t ask for his help because he’s a jerk. And my mother has her own judgmental problems. She’s not perfect and when she talks crazy I need to tune her out.

    I had a dog as a child who hurt his paw and even after stitches he licked the wound so much that the fur fell away and then he reopened the wound. I mentioned this to the therapist and she seized on it- If I looked at my wounded childhood and kept licking at the wound and licking at the wound the only person it would hurt was ME! If I got the wound repaired and dealt with it and let it heal and then dropped it, then my paw would be fine.

    These kids need to deal with the correct way to handle these issues and grieve the small part of their lost childhood, but then they have to leave it alone because if they keep licking their wounds then the wounds won’t heal and they won’t get better.

    Because regardless of how we grew up and who raised us we know that every single day we start fresh without any baggage and we make decisions on what we will do that day. The kid who sees tv shows and movies everyday where the criminal gets punished knows damn well that crime is wrong. When their parent says that crime is cool they still know its wrong. My crazy uncle would read me bible passages that promoted racism and white supremacy- do you think I couldn’t tell right from wrong when he blathered on and on? Darn right. Ditto with these kids.

    They need to be reminded that every time that alarm clock rings their life starts fresh. OJ Simpson built up everything anyone could want, but when he killed his wife, his world came crashing down. It’s not about your history, it’s about your future.

    It’s always about your future.

    You write your future, your parents have nothing to say about it.

    And that’s what we need to tell the kids.

  • regarding the economics of crack. I read a story once about a crack dealer in Camden, NJ(?) who talked about making hundreds of dollars a day in profit, let’s say like $800, but having to dole out $100 to his guards and lookouts in his gang so he ended up making like $300 a day selling crack. And the article acted like this was good money.

    At the time I was 25, working for a dotcom company with no college degree and making about $400 per day with insurance and retirement and stock options.

  • No Name: I think you’re too kind. It’s not “almost” racism, it’s pretty typical racism. People are happy to believe the worst of poor black people (or Iraqis, or immigrants) because it justifies the status quo and their world view.

  • Right, but then why would Prince of Petworth post that kind of racist stuff right up front- that these African-American kids can’t help themselves because of their parents or “don’t know no better.”

    I tell my kids “Every day is a new day” all the time. They have to know their past- but their future is where it’s at.

  • You know there a whole lot of white people in appalachia (not as many as black people in the city though) who deal with many of these problems with poverty, crime and drugs. They have been struggling to break out of it for over 200 years now. We call them inbreds, make fun of them all the time. The only difference is thier skin color and they live in a single wide instead of a row house of some section 8 housing.

  • Prince Of Petworth

    Sorry I don’t remember saying “that these African-American kids can’t help themselves”. Funny I don’t remember mentioning race at all. Or was I saying something completely opposite, like it is a matter of situation that has absolutely zero to do with race. I suggest you, “No name today”, use more caution before labeling someone a racist.

  • No name- I don’t think anyone was waving an “African-American kids can’t succeed because their parent’s don’t know no better” flag. We’re talking about poverty and kids that grow up in some crappy homes. If you want to assume that anyone is talking about a particular race, that’s your choice.

    Personally, my one-on-one experiences that have formed most of my opinions on the topic come from working in the social services on the other side of the country, in a town who’s claim to fame was a top ranking in the State’s meth production. This was a town teeming with all sorts of “inbred white trash” with open facial sores and rotten teeth. There were about, two black families in the whole county.

    Oh lord- I actually had a client who was on the Jenny Jones show for a “who’s the baby’s father DNA test show….”

  • I trust oden assumes that everyone reading knows that it is just a good line in a good song and that Johnny Cash (RIP) did not shoot that man.
    Things seem to be changing in recent years, but it used to be pretty uncommon for someone to follow up a homicide conviction with a successful musical career. Huddie Ledbetter comes to mind.

  • These DC kids need a program like this in their lives.

    It’s the Yellow Brick Roads program, which provides support to children with parents in prison, like education, grooming classes, etc. It’s run by the daughter of Frank Lucas (yes, the American Gangster). Growing up with a parent in prison has made her want to do something for these children who have parents in prison now.

  • Murder need not end your career. Don King did pretty well after killing a few people, including stomping a fella to death (ouch!) in Cleveland ’cause the poor joe was slow on his payments after picking the wrong horse … so you might want to think twice about laughing at his hair.

    Dog the Bounty Hunter, hero to the NASCAR set, was convicted of shot-gunning a black fella in Texas back in 1977. Back in those days such conduct got you a couple years and a stern talking to. While his big, racist mouth seems to have derailed his television success here recently, the fact that he likes shooting unarmed black folk dead didn’t seem to bother anyone nearly as much as his saying the N word. Priorities.

    As far as Cash goes, while he never shot a man in Reno, he was a major doper and spent time locked up for drugs.

    Still, obviously, not as bad as bouncing checks.

  • We’re talking about poverty and kids that grow up in some crappy homes. If you want to assume that anyone is talking about a particular race, that’s your choice.
    Go back and do a search to see the dozen or so times the writers mentioned Black, Black Community and African American. If you skipped over those words, that’s your prerogative, but the focus on the black community was explicit.

  • PoP: I don’t think No Name is calling anyone out as a sheet-wearing racist as much as acknowledging what we all know: a lot of white folk, including white folk that buy houses in places like Petworth, still harbor prejudices to varying degrees. One thing that is also clear, and these recent discussions have brought it up, is that black folk are equally susceptible to such feelings and stereotypes about poor blacks. And that is one point where you are 100% right PoP, at its heart this is about class too. People from different backgrounds sometimes say and believe things without really thinking about them or saying them with any particular malice, myself included.

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