Society as a whole must be more vigilant concerning the reality that more young adults are in possession of guns than we realize. Shootings resulting in numerous deaths by young adults is commonplace in this country and some feel that not enough is being done to deter or curtail this practice. In fact, many African Americans emphatically express that they feel this lack of deterring gun possession among our youth, supports the pipeline to prison, especially among young Black men.
Surely there is more that can be done to minimize what seems to be an epidemic in our country, especially disproportionally among young Black children. One can only assume that since many correctional and prison systems are privatized (money made from occupancy), it makes it profitable to look the other way. This then becomes a bureaucratic and systemic practice supported by laws and policies.
Guns do not discriminate. Children of all races, ethnicities, incomes, status, and educational levels have possession or guns or have easy access to a gun. Unfortunately, the percentage of young people involved in gun shootings are higher among young people of color. It is unlikely the system will correct this problem anytime soon, if ever. It will take families and communities working collaboratively to address and curtail this epidemic. But the greatest responsibility must fall on the family. In most cases this may mean the single parent, usually the mother making up the head of the household.
Parents must be knowledgeable about what is happening in their homes. That means they must exercise more guidance and supervision in their children’s lives. They must know where their children are at all times and who are the friends that occupy most of their children’s time. Let’s be real, if you have an unsupervised school age child staying out late and coming home in the wee hours of the night, it is probable that he or she may be involved in a gang or complicit in unsavory illicit activities. Many times the signs are undeniable and you must intervene and not be in denial.
It is key that combatting the problem of youth with guns must be ongoing and not taken for granted. You cannot always be your child’s friend. You need to be their parent (guardian) offering sound and stern advice, practicing that tough love when needed. We live in tough, trying times. While you may want to respect your children’s privacy, they often use that trust to deceive us. That means that you must randomly search your teenager’s room for drugs or guns. If your child possess a car, it should be searched (the glove compartment, under the seats, and the trunk) extensively and frequently. Of course there will be resentment by the child, but it could save theirs and other lives. When they are grown, they will understand your reasoning.
Peers and people in the community must be willingly to identify negative activities and suspicious people in their vicinities. Some call it snitching, but I feel most people appreciate living in a neighborhood where they feel safe and unafraid. People involved in illicit activities or practices often discourage snitching to create an atmosphere where they can feel comfortable in continuing to practice their illicit activities.
If you have to have a gun in your home, make sure it is hidden from your children and locked up if possible. Living in a safe community will take a collaborative part on all parties involved. We must offer supervised community activities and be surrogate families for those whose mothers are not home nightly because they are working two or more jobs to make ends meet. We must honestly commit to the adage ‘It takes a village to raise a child.’ Guns will always be here. Let’s do everything to insure that our communities are safe and our children live long productive lives.