Here is something I wrote over at Facebook’s “Dads Protecting Daughters”- Joe and I traded some comments there, and I thought I would open it up to the American Catholic society! Here goes:
A Safer World For All Children
We have touched upon some of the cultural issues relating to the protection and nurturing of our daughters (and sons- really this Facebook cause “Dads Protecting Daughters” directly relates to boys and girls). Now I want to bring up something on the literal street level- this is a political and economic area of concern. I am a huge “root causes” guy- the Catholic social teachings and Hierarchical commentaries are constantly saying in effect- “be courageous, look at the root causes of violence, of terrorism, of war”. I take this very, very seriously.
I don’t want to just go after bad guys and lock em up- I do want to do that, but I want to spend as much time on being merciful and looking at how children are in many instances going to respond to their environment growing up- for good or ill. So here is a practical solution to the crime that threatens all of us- and I don’t want my daughters to become victims of some dude who grew up on the mean streets and became something more like an animal than a man as a result. Here is a letter I wrote when I was running for Florida State House- it was published in Florida Today. As we see more problems, more violence all around, with the economy now playing a bigger role in adding to the negatives which send some guys over the edge- I want to push for the resources necessary to make sure we don’t continue leaving more and more neighborhoods behind out of budgetary neglect. There are common good items which cannot be sacrificed at the altar of budget consciousness- call it budget “conscience-ness”.
So here is my proposal to target the neighborhoods where children are now being raised in danger of being inculcated with criminal mindsets- who may one day grow up into the kind of monsters who could threaten our daughters and our sons- on every level of our Christian thinking, this type of investment makes sense- I welcome any feedback.
“Leave no neighborhood behind”
Published 11/07 Florida Today
I am very pleased that we are starting to get focused
on more of the root causes of Brevard’s poverty and
crime. Adapting a theme from the education world, I
would urge us to “Leave no neighborhood behind”.
According to data compiled by the Justice Mapping
Center, the majority of people convicted of crimes
come from very few and very concentrated
neighborhoods. With all the focus on schools, it is
easy to forget that children are even more influenced
by what is going on in and around their homes.
Rehabilitating neighborhoods is an effective and less
costly approach to empowering youth to break the cycle
of despair, anger, and violence.
Specifically, we could take abandoned homes and turn
them into police substations, recruiting new police
from the tough neighborhoods, partner them with
veterans, pay them family wages, and provide solid
Weed and Seed programs, faith-based justice and
charity non-profits, vibrant community centers, sports
leagues, and beautification projects should all be
funded generously by the state and feds- pinpointing
areas where the most criminals are produced. Low
property values in the hoods either entrap people who
can’t afford to move, or they get pushed away through
gentrification. Let’s go with the research and win the
hearts and minds of the at-risk youth.