Why there is there a large prison population of Black males?
This blog is dedicated to making aware the Children’s Defense Fund campaign Cradle to Prison Pipeline and providing excerpts from the report in spoon size pieces in an effort to understand what’s happening in the Black community and provide an answer to the large population of Black males in prison.
A Call to End Adult Hypocrisy, Neglect and Abandonment of Children and America’s Cradle to Prison Pipeline
This very painful report onAmerica’s Cradle to Prison Pipeline® crisis is a loud siren of
alarm and wake up call to action to every parent, faith, community, public policy,
political and cultural leader, child and family serving agency and citizen.
I am often asked “What’s wrong with our children?” Children having children.
Children killing children. Children killing others. Children killing themselves. Children
roaming streets alone or in gangs all day and night. Children floating through life like
driftwood on a beach. Children addicted to tobacco and alcohol and heroin and
cocaine and pot, drinking and drugging themselves to death to escape reality.
Children running away from home and being thrown away or abused and neglected
by parents. Children being locked up in jails with adult criminal mentors or all alone.
Children bubbling with rage and crushed by depression.
Well adults are what’s wrong with our children. Parents letting children raise
themselves or be raised by television or the Internet. Children being shaped by peers
and gangs and foul mouth rappers instead of parents, grandparents and kin. Children
roaming the streets because there’s nobody at home or paying enough attention.
Children going to drug houses that are always open instead of to school houses and
church houses, mosques and temples that are too often closed. Children seeing
adults take and sell drugs and be violent to each other and to them. Adults telling children
one thing and doing another. Adults making promises we don’t keep and preaching
what we don’t practice. Adults telling children to control themselves while slapping
and spanking. Adults telling children to be honest while lying and cheating in our
homes, offices and public life. Adults telling children not to be violent while marketing
and glorifying violence and tolerating gun saturated war zones in communities all
across our land. Adults telling children to be healthy while selling them junk food and
addicting them to smoke and drink and careless sex.
Our “child and youth problem” is not a child and youth problem;
it is a profound adult problem as our children do what they see
us adults doing in our personal, professional and public lives.
What’s wrong with our children? We are what’s wrong with our children. And I
hope God will help us to repent, to open our eyes and ears and see and hear our children’s
cries for help and guidance, and act to save them all—now!
What must children feel when parents, kin, neighbors and cultural icons abuse
drugs and engage in or condone violent behavior? What must children feel when
those entrusted with caring for them in their homes, neighborhoods, schools and
other institutions abuse and neglect them? How great must be their fear and anger
when parents and relatives are snatched away from them by drugs and gun violence
and incarceration. How scary it must be for a child to sleep in an unsafe shelter full
of strangers with no place to call home. How angry and rejected a child or teen must
feel when there is no loving, reliable person s/he can trust and who is being shunted
from one family foster home or group home to another and from one school that suspends
and expels him to another. How isolated and alone it must feel when no one sees or
cares whether you’re truant or home before dark or struggling to see the blackboard
or have a learning disorder. What can children believe when important adults in their
lives tell them in word and deed that they are not worth much and treat them as a burden
rather than a gift, don’t expect and help them to achieve, or abandon them altogether to
raise themselves? What do children learn about right and wrong when they see corporate
leaders being arrested for pillaging their corporations and the life blood of
workers, seniors and stockholders? How can children trust political leaders who
repeatedly promise to alleviate their poverty, to rebuild their flooded homes and
schools, to ease their suffering and then leave them like debris still waiting over two
years later, in a purgatory of hopelessness and uncertainty, for their nation to help
them heal their monstrous losses and to prepare them for productive lives? Who can
children believe when religious leaders, charged by their faith to protect and nurture
them, abuse them instead? And who can rudderless children and youth look up to as
s/heroes in a culture that permits violence and guns and prison and underachievement
to be promoted as cool, almost as rites of passage, and bling as worth living,
killing and dying for?
It is time for adults of every race and income group to break our silence about
the pervasive breakdown of moral, family, community and national values, to place our
children first in our lives, and to struggle to model the behavior we want our children
to learn. Our “child and youth problem” is not a child and youth problem, it is a profound
adult problem as our children do what they see us adults doing in our personal, professional
and public lives. They seek our attention in negative ways when we provide
them too few positive ways to communicate and to get the attention and love they
need. And we choose to punish and lock them up rather than take the necessary,
more cost-effective steps to prevent and intervene early to ensure them the healthy,
head, safe, fair and moral start in life they need to reach successful adulthood.