America’s Cradle to Prison Pipeline – 5

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 allnow!

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.

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