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An Answer For Crime In Madison–And It Starts At Home

July 22, 2017

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.

The reasons for such dangerous and bad behavior is often attributed to a long list of social concerns.  Some deal with employment issues, others matters about education, too many guns in circulation, and of course drugs.  Each in their own way plays a part in the rising crime problems that have now started to truly impact our city.

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.

  1. 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.
  2. There is no excuse to miss school expect for sickness.
  3. Schoolwork is front and center in the evening.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.)
  7. Kids do not smoke in the house.
  8. No drugs are allowed in the house.
  9. No guns or other weapons are allowed in the house.
  10. There is an expectation from Day One that learning is important and respect for oneself and others is never to falter.
  11. 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.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. July 22, 2017 11:08 PM

    I loved your comments about your Dad. Very meaningful–so thanks.

    I add this but about my parents from my book and I just know your dad and mine were ‘from the same school’. Not sure that is a saying in Texas but when I was a boy if was often used–I still do–and it means one of a kind.

    “My parents cared deeply for the little things in life. Dad liked to tell the story of the screech owls he had helped save as a boy. I hadn’t heard the story in a number of years. Not so long before he passed away, I asked him to repeat his story. It was like pulling a book off the shelf that had been read to me countless times as a child, knowing it would still bring a smile to his face.

    “At age ten or eleven, Royce found three screech owls in the barn that still stands at the old homestead in Coloma. Royce and his brother Robert, two years younger, became the guardians of these youngsters. The mother owl had disappeared for whatever reason. A couple of times a day, the boys’ Mom supplied them with bread and milk to feed the birds. Royce always continued the story with some small waves of his hand, like the fluttering of wings, as he recounted how his cousin Hiram had told the brothers: “We shoot those things.” Even though Hiram blustered about such things, Royce spoke of how the cousin could not believe how the birds would fly in and land as they did on the boys’ shoulders. “They would fly into the barn and land on our shoulders for feeding. They were very friendly. Robert and I were not having any of shooting them”. Royce and Robert continued feeding the young owls until they had grown a bit older; the boys then released their three friends in the orchard.

    “Dad was an old softie. In his adult life, he made sure every winter that the wild turkeys would have corn to eat in an area in the woods where they came to scratch and peck. He never hunted them, or wanted harm to come their way. If the icy crust of snow would prevent the turkeys from finding any food, you’d find Dad lugging a pail of corn to the woods. He did this year after year.

    “My Mom made holiday meals for the cats. Dad helped to deliver her gifts on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Mom would get a skillet out and put this left-over or that one into the mix, add some milk, and warm it up. Then Dad would march it out to our field and feed some cats that he knew lived across the road. In the high snow months my Dad even made a path down to the field so one of the younger cats could walk easier to the place where he fed them. My folks taught me how to be more aware of the world that is right outside our window, and how to care about things smaller than us.”

  2. July 22, 2017 10:49 PM

    Thanks for your comment, Patti. I echo the needing Dad part in two ways. I was a Big Brother to a super kid who needed structure and kindness. Way too many need same in nation today at that age and have no male figure to provide it. I get that Moms can be doing that too–but it really is a two adult person job to raise kids. I also worked in a non-profit as a program director to set up mentors for teen boys in a group home who had to only create one more strike for the legal system to be started. In some cases it was all I could do to not want to just remove myself from the room as the cases were so sad, so heart achingly sad–and it all really started at the home level and without guidance the kids went into the wrong path.

  3. pattilynn9 permalink
    July 22, 2017 7:08 PM

    I certainly agree with your list!

    Your red sentences: There is no reason the same common-sense rules of the road for parenting that my mom and dad employed should not apply today. And: parents need to step up their game and help society create the next generation of adults we would want as our neighbors.

    Both struck me because they contained the words “Dad” and “Parent(s)”. IMO, there are way, way, way too many kids with NO men in their lives/families. Unmarried women/girls bringing multiple children (all with different fathers) into the world are a recipe for failure and heartbreak. Men/boys who impregnate females with no thought or care what happens to their offspring are worse than animals.

    I can not begin to list the positive influences my father had in my life. He worked hard to provide for the family, holding a steady job and sometimes doing side work for extra money. He was honest. – This was years ago when they had pay phones and full service gas stations…he needed to use the pay phone. I got out with him. I was about 12. There was a dime in the return coin well from a previous user. It made a life long impression on me when he took the dime inside and turned it in to the attendent. It didn’t belong to us, so there was no question what to do with it!

    He had a strength and we felt safe. He was funny and loved to laugh. He had many friends and ppl looked up to him. But the most important thing I’ll always remember about my father is: he loved, loved, loved my mother. And she him.

    Kids need more of that.

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