Nothing reminded me more of the delicate balance of raising children than listening to a community police officer describe what happens when a parent gives up on a child and calls the police to deliver a quick fix.
Sgt. Darryl Honore, a community police officer for 16 years, said he often has to break down certain stigmas before he can dispense advice or take action for parents of troubled children.
“There is nothing more frustrating than when parents say, ‘I can’t do anything with this child,’” Honore said. “When a parent has raised a child for 12 or 15 years, I cannot correct that child in 30 minutes.”
Try as he might to pick up the pieces and help families and their children resolve issues, a negative image often precedes him.
“There are parents who say to their children that ‘the police will get you,’” Honore said. “Yes, we will if you are bad.” But, he added, “I am not a bully. I’m a friend. Our job is to protect and serve.”
How many times have we warned our children to avoid a bad behavior and then scared them to death by adding, “or the police will get you and throw you in jail.”
Parents know our words and actions shape the way our children behave. Honore said rebuilding family structure and giving young people hope is key.
“As long as they have no hope, they will fight and act out violence for senseless or no reasons,” he said.
Honore and community advocates including Arthur Reed, talked to parents, students and educators at an Advance Innovative Education Community forum this month in Baton Rouge on “Stop the Killing.”
While youth crime in the Baton Rouge area is down, juveniles are committing more serious crimes, and 56 percent of crimes in 2009 were committed by juveniles in the parish during schools hours, according to the Department of Juvenile Services.
To those who say the police are only out to “get,” Honore disagrees.
“Police are in the schools trying to break that wall of fear and intimidation. And the young people know we are there to help,” he said.
Baton Rouge police officer Jason Matthews is a DARE officer (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) and tries to be a positive role model for students.
Matthews, a former educator, teaches a 10-week course in school showing students how to stand up to drugs, peer pressure and bullying.
“I have parents saying, ‘We appreciate what you do,’ and kids are running up to me thanking me,” he said.
Alexus Griffin, a St. Helena Central High senior, said parents set the tone for their children’s behavior. “To expect something from your children, you have to practice what you preach,” she said.
Chante Dionne Warren is a freelance writer. She can be reached at email@example.com