The news this week was bleak when it comes to crime problems in parts of Madison.
The 600 block of University Avenue has been a hot spot for late-night violence for years, but recent incidents have Madison police suggesting that the corridor has reached an unprecedented level of violence.
Data from January to June show that batteries on the block have increased from last year by 70 percent. Felony batteries, of which there was only one last year, numbered nine in 2017. Disturbances, which numbered 61 last year, have risen by 59 percent to 97. And calls for service are up 10 percent to 507.
I am not a social scientist but strongly feel that too many younger people do not have the needed guidance at home where the common-sense respect for themselves and others is first generated. I know there is an attempt in the city to grow programs around those who need to be handled. and use public monies for that effort. I think that concept misses the core problem which starts at an early age in homes all over this city.
Granted I was born in 1962 in Hancock, located in a rural county in Wisconsin. Many can say ‘things were much different’ then, and they would be accurate. But only up to a point. There is no reason the same common-sense rules of the road for parenting that my mom and dad employed should not apply today.
I offer a few ideas that either were in place when I was a kid or clearly had no need to ever be addressed because we had a solid family foundation.
- Kids need to be read to from day one. Books need to be in a home and used as an everyday item same as a plate or spoon.
- There is no excuse to miss school expect for sickness.
- Schoolwork is front and center in the evening.
- One may not have lots of money but there can still be an investment made in education. Attending parent/teacher meetings or volunteering at the local school are but two ways to impact a child’s education.
- From the start know who your kids interact with and the quality of people they spend time with when the parent is not around. Alerting them from the start about the quality of friends can be most important.
- Everyday there is a time when all in the family meet for dinner (supper) and no electronic gadgets are allowed at the table. Talk centers on whatever took place in the lives gathered. Fostering good communications skills for the whole family is a most undervalued asset in times of turmoil. (This topic of the importance of dinner time and how it is reflected in books and movies and has shaped our past and needs to continue is a project I have been working on and wish to further develop. At some point I may take a blogging vacation to craft my next writing project.)
- Kids do not smoke in the house.
- No drugs are allowed in the house.
- No guns or other weapons are allowed in the house.
- There is an expectation from Day One that learning is important and respect for oneself and others is never to falter.
- No one even hints at dropping out of high school.
Times change but common-sense does not. Young people who make awful choices need to take their share of responsibility for what happens. But parents need to step up their game and help society create the next generation of adults we would want as our neighbors.