How To Prevent Violence by Helping At-Risk Kids

child abuse, healthy communities, sandy hook, random violence, resilient youth, youth mentor, community connections, village life, healthy families, healthy kids, mentoring programs,

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You can’t just blame the parents

As I noted above, I’ve seen a lot of negative comments aimed at the parents of shooters over the past couple of weeks. However, when someone becomes violent or takes out their frustrations on society, it’s not as simple as just blaming the parents – at some point we need to take responsibility as a community for how kids turn out. When kids have bad parents they also tend to get shunned at school and by the community, and that’s not just the parents fault. Something I’ve mentioned in passing as a writer, but haven’t really ever gotten into was my own household as a kid. I tend to say things like, “I grew up in a questionable home,” mainly because “Questionable” sounds a whole lot nicer at a green family site than, “Violent” or “Abusive.” The truth though, without getting into too much detail, is that my home as a kid was cold, violent and not a place for kids. My two siblings and I being raised in such a household, acted out more than other kids during our early years. However, we didn’t turn into violent adults and we haven’t taken out our past issues on random innocent people. Why not? In spite of the turmoil at home, we had some random adults in our lives, outside of our home, who treated us as if we were worth something.

For me it was a woman who was like a grandma to me. My grandma, who was actually the mother of one of my mom’s ex-boyfriends, took me into her home when my mom kicked me out of my house. For my sister, it was her friend’s family who took her in when my mom kicked her out and treated her like part of the family. For my brother, who was kicked out when he was about 12 or 13 years old, it was the sister of one of my mom’s boyfriends, who actually took my mom to court, fought my mom for custody and eventually ended up adopting my brother, spending all of her own money to do so. My siblings and I didn’t have parents or any blood relatives who cared for us when we were young, but we did have the people above, and they made all the difference. None of the above people owed us anything. Yet they gave and gave and gave, thus changing our lives for the better.

Would my siblings and I have been okay had no one helped us out? Maybe. Three kids from a questionable home have some significant odds stacked against them. On top of that, every time I hear about violence in the community, I remember how it felt to be a kid who was mad at the entire world – and believe me, I was very angry with everyone around me, so I feel like our upbringing could have been a recipe for disaster. Instead, for whatever reason, my siblings and I were lucky that several adults came forward to put our best interests first.

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