Rocky Mount leaders pulled together the community’s best resources promptly and admirably in the wake of a basketball court shooting that wounded four young people several weeks ago. The community responded as well, turning out in big numbers for forums targeting youth violence and gangs, in particular.
Most responsible parents and youth leaders already emphasize the more tangible steps that lead kids to become productive citizens. Stay in school. Resist the temptations of alcohol and drugs. Exercise. Enjoy the opportunities for fun and fellowship that are offered by churches, sports teams and other youth organizations.
But as Telegram staff writer Brie Handgraaf reported this week, moderators of a forum at Word Tabernacle Church reached for deeper influences, too.
“I challenge families to get back in the game,” said the Rev. Shelton Daniel of Greater Joy Baptist Church. “Then we can depend on our churches, our schools, our government. It has got to start back with the family.”
And there’s the heavy lifting. Teachers, coaches, ministers and counselors work wonders every day with America’s young people. But if the lessons they offer are undermined by the behavior of parents and siblings at home, the kids they’re trying to reach often will face an uphill battle on the way to becoming responsible adults.
When a child’s home life contributes to his behavioral problems, it’s up to the rest of us to try to fill that gap. That isn’t easy for any of us, no matter how much experience we’ve had with troubled teens.
Rocky Mount leaders are aiming in the right direction. The challenge comes in reaching and correcting the behavior of the people who have the most potential to influence young people – their families.