“Just another Day in the Neighbor-Hood”
“Those children were left behind” was the headline on the Washington Post front page on Saturday, April 3, 2010. There is nowhere for them to go in the area. “They don’t have anything to do, no jobs, no activities,” says Fahim Shabazz, a resident of Ward 8. I am still reeling from the entire shooting incident that I ran into taking a fellow-church member home. I am a resident of Ward 7 and so we are sister wards and like siblings we have common genes and problems. Left behind by whom, when, how, the statement presupposes that there were others who were being led somewhere other than to juvenile detention. I say this “we” in this society program for juvenile detention, if a youth wants services, then get herself/himself adjudicated as a delinquent and a flood gate of social services, programs and activities open wide. The only money we spend on our youth is reflected in the per pupil cost for educations, food stamps, Section 8 housing, Medicare, Medicaid, tax credits and recently reauthorized Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), that makes up approximately 2% of the federal budget which barely keeps up with the interest on the national debt. No room for growth or inflation that means in the long term, funds for youth are decreasing at an alarming rate. Where is the “Children’s Budget?” Where is the White House Initiative on Children? Where is the National or Local Commission on Children? In the recently released District of Columbia budget during an election year, the focus is on voters, children do not vote. Government will not save our children. In Wards 7 and 8 there are a plethora of churches, in fact one or two on every corner, schools, civic associations, and the public does not get a pass on this. What about the children? It is so easy to forget about them until a tragedy strikes. But if you think about it, where would you be today without some help, some guidance, somebody? In order to be left behind there must be some intent, perceived or otherwise to move forward. Let’s forget the clichés, “it takes a village…..” “everyone teach one….” And everyone do something!