Monday, September 28, 2009

Bleak Future for Today's Children

Stories like this make growing up through the drug and gang polluted era's of the 80's & 90's seem like a dream come true compared to what today's youth are faced with. 16 year old honor student, Derrion Albert, was beaten to death after getting caught in a fight between two rival groups of students who attended or live near Fenger H.S. on the south side of Chicago. What began with a shooting outside of the school, culminated in a fight where 2X4's were used as weapons, and a young man with a bright mind was killed for no reason other than a lack of ambition among so many of today's youths.

A video of the fight was caught on tape by another student and it shows the final minute of Derrion Albert's life. What these children did was absolutely disgusting. This was no schoolyard fight, this was a brutal murder and it was senseless to say the least. The video was turned into a local Fox news station, who subsequently turned it into police. Officers have made three arrests so far, and more are pending investigation. The three young men, ages 16, 18, and 19, have been charged as adults with first-degree murder, and are being held without bond.

The kids growing up today are not just victims of socioeconomic disadvantages. Parenting and discipline starts at home. I have lived in filthy motels (plural), two family flats, rented duplexes, and low-income housing. I grew up with a father who spent a significant portion of my childhood in jail. My family has dealt with domestic issues that no family should have to deal with, yet in no way shape or form was my upbringing ever used as an excuse for failure.

My parents showed me that hard work, perseverance, and faith will bring you through whatever cards you're dealt in this life. They made sure that I knew that they believed in me, and they would not allow me to fail. Not enough parents are raising their kids though. Instead, they're letting the streets, gangs, and other misguided people raise them, then they're surprised when their child takes part in events such as the fight in Chicago.

Don't get me wrong, this isn't all on the parents. At a certain point young adults become old enough to be held accountable for their actions. When hard working parents have to work two and three shifts at work to provide for their families, more youths should take advantage of options like recreational centers and extracurricular activities, as an alternative to sitting at home watching tv and finding a way to get into trouble. More schools should make their facilities available to children who have little or no options once classes end.

A combination of factors can cause children to grow up not valuing their lives or the lives of others, but it starts at the home, and continues in school. This isn't the first senseless act committed by teenagers, and it won't be the last. We all need to take accountability because this could have very well involved someone close to any of us. God bless all families and parties involved, including the perpetrators. They did just as much damage to their own lives as they did to the one they took.

R.I.P. Derrion


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