WAVY news recently reported about the NAACP Youth Council meeting at St. Timothy Baptist Church (On East Washington Street) where youth in the community were asked to express their feelings and thoughts regarding the recent uptick in youth violence in Suffolk. In just this past year alone two Lakeland High School students lost thier lives to gunfire. On the WAVY report, Darren Cuyos said, “I just wish for all the violence to stop.” He also commented on the sense of hoplessness that has infected many of these young adults, “I want to be successful. I don’t want to be around here. I know that.”
In the meeting, the young adults were asked to share their feelings, but few were willing to share. So the the leader, Tyron Riddick, asked for comments to be written on index cards. I found what they wrote surprising and comforting.
They wrote comments like:
- “Older people are not giving kids a good influence. They sell drugs too.”
- “Need more gang awareness. Need adults to be enforcing things.”
- “It can change. We probably need more parents involved.”
As I read this article I could not but help to think of the parents passage in Dueteronomy 6. In that scripture parents are commanded to pass down Godly values to their children. They are called on to spend all kinds of time with them to get this accomplished. Children catch a lot more than they are taught and children cannot catch on to a life that respects and cares for others unless they can see that in their parents. Of course, that requires parents to strive authentically to be a person that respects and cares for others. As noted by the teens above, a lot of parents are struggling with that.
There is this urban myth out there that teens want a friend as a parent. There is another myth that kids today are influenced so much by music, movies, celebrity culture, and other peers that parents don’t matter much anymore. THAT IS SO FALSE! Survey after survey shows that when it comes to ethics, faith, and values kids are looking for answers in the adults in ther life. And as the comments from these kids in this forum prove, youth are looking for some adults to be a mature adult and be in charge and lead. Notice, they didn’t say we need Jay-Z to come in a set things straight!
I am so thankful the NAACP had this forum. I hope the Suffolk’s parents hear what our youth are saying, and stand up for the youth in their home, neighborhood, and community.