June 17, 2011 12:16:00 PM
It''s become an often-expressed sentiment.
Still, it''s no less true: Children today are facing harsh realities we wouldn''t have imagined even a decade ago.
Peer pressure is a stronger, less conquerable force, amplified by texting, tweeting and social media like Facebook.
In Mississippi, an inordinate number of children are being raised in single-parent households by mothers working multiple jobs to make ends meet.
Even in two-parent homes, less time is spent on parenting.
Children lash out.
Pent-up aggression and, sometimes, violence learned at home makes its way to the classrooms and the streets.
For children whose home lives are unhealthy, school and community programs are where we can begin to reclaim our youth, where we can show them there is a better way of life.
Thursday, well-meaning community activists tried to instill those ideas in students at Columbus Middle School, with a Stop the Violence youth summit.
The motivational talks, though well-intentioned, likely will not have a lasting effect; they probably sounded better to the adults than the students.
How many sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders really will change their way of thinking after hearing thread-bare phrases spouted during an hour-long assembly?
We challenge these community leaders to join forces and create more substantive programs that can impact these young lives. Those same students preached to about role models and violence would get so much more from a change of scenery --away from the environment that has helped create problem -- such as a summer-long program or, better yet, a week-long camp in which children, with guidance from positive role models, could experience the outdoors and engage in an interactive dialogue that would better equip them to withstand the challenges they face.
It''s in these types of settings where children can open up about the troubles they face and also are responsive to mentors and new friendships.
Maybe a camp isn''t the solution we need to break through the thick shell kids can build up and to show them how to make positive choices. But it''s one of many options bound to be more effective than just talking at them.
Building positive behavior in children starts at home. When it doesn''t, schools, churches and the community are left to either pick up the slack or likewise fail our youth.
And, they need much more than a pep talk.
frank commented at 6/18/2011 9:02:00 AM:
Don't over think it. Children need parents that themselves set a good example and are willing to dole out reward and punishment as required. It takes a lot of work and love to raise children no matter if it is 1812 or 2012. The "village" of schools, churches, and community, taking up the slack is mostly just liberal babble.
bmcd1234 commented at 6/28/2011 11:50:00 PM:
When I'm out with my kids at the park or McDonalds or somewhere else. I can't believe the parents that just let their children go, they drop them off or just don't pay any attention to what they are doing. Leaving someone else to tell their kids when they are being too rough, or don't hit, or don't kick, or don't bite my child. Sure some of us try our best to instill good behaviors in our children, and then they turn around and some other kid is climbing on top of the playground or tearing it up. Ive seen them do it right in front of their parents or the parents talking away not paying them any attention. It's true that their greatest examples are their parents, so it just makes me think how these parents act. People use churches or any get together for a free babysitter.
1. Ask Rufus: Coming home at Christmas LOCAL COLUMNS
2. Birney Imes: A Christmastime ramble LOCAL COLUMNS
3. Dana Milbank: Marco Rubio's fury NATIONAL COLUMNS
5. Michael Gerson: A global conspiracy of health NATIONAL COLUMNS