To keep kids safe, try the ‘mama rules’
BY MARY MITCHELL firstname.lastname@example.org July 4, 2012 9:22PM
Updated: August 6, 2012 11:54AM
I appreciate that Mayor Rahm Emanuel is personally reaching out to the survivors after a young person is gunned down in the streets.
But by then it’s too late to do anything besides point out that these young lives are being wasted.
After every youth homicide, the mayor renews his pledge to crack down on the shooters, and he gives the grieving a moment of comfort.
But ultimately it is the adult guardians in these communities who are responsible for keeping young people safe from harm.
Given the unwavering violence, safeguarding children is beginning to seem like an impossible task.
But African-American families didn’t just start living in neighborhoods affected by violence. I grew up in a part of the city where I saw a bloody fight just about every day.
Many of the black people who are now living in the ’burbs, or in Hyde Park, or the South Loop, survived those tough neighborhoods because they were brought up under the mama rules.
Daddy had rules, too, but in most instances he was the enforcer.
Frankly, I’m sick of people pointing to the absence of black fathers as being at the root of the violence we are experiencing.
Of course, kids who grow up in a two-parent family are less likely to grow up in an impoverished community, and that alone will reduce their risk of becoming victims.
But when Papa was a rolling stone, Mama kept the family going.
So unless someone is going to bring back shotgun weddings, or unlock the prisons and let out offenders under the condition that they marry their babies’ mamas, or hire an unemployed black man so that he can put a ring on it and get off of his mother’s couch, we need to move on.
Black women aren’t helpless in this situation. Sure, they want more brothers to step up. But there are steps that single mothers can take today to help reduce a child’s risk of harm.
I call them the mama rules. And if you live in a neighborhood where shots are fired on a regular basis, observing these simple rules might help save your child’s life.
Rule No 1: No hanging on corners.
The young people hanging on the corners are usually up to no good. The corner is also the most common place for a teenager to be gunned down because of mistaken identity.
Rule No. 2: Be home by such-and-such a time.
Even if you have to get up and go haul your teen home, set a curfew — and mean it. Obviously, people are getting shot at all hours. But teens shouldn’t be out on the street at all hours.
Rule No. 3: Stay away from bad a*&** people.
Everyone in the neighborhood knows where the bad people live. Your teen might just be a wannabe, but if he or she is hanging out with the wrong people, the risk of becoming a victim increases dramatically.
Rule No. 4: Don’t bring anything into my house.
There’s no way a teen should be bringing items into your home without you knowing where they came from. If they are holding someone else’s gym shoes, what makes you think they won’t bring home someone else’s gun?
Rule No. 5: Show some respect.
We need to get back to kids saying, “Yes, ma’am” and “No, sir.” Maybe then they’ll grow up and show the proper respect for authority.
Police officers should not have to use a Taser on or shoot suspects to get them to comply. Unfortunately, at least one teen is killed every summer in a controversial police shooting.
Rule No. 6: Don’t just stand there; do something.
Get your child involved in an activity or sport that will keep them off the street while school is out.
Rule No. 7: Cross at the light.
Besides being shot, young are being killed by hit-and-run drivers. In some instances, the child was trying to cross in the middle of the street.
If you have any of your own mama rules, please share them.
Say what you will, the mama rules work.