Parental guidance is key to child's success

Saturday, April 26, 2014

There's a story making the rounds this week about a group of young thugs -- ages 12, 13, 14 and 16 -- who terrorized and stole from early morning joggers in New York's Central Park.

The youngsters approached two female joggers and stole their electronic devices and tried to rob another victim who was punched in the face when he resisted.

The story did not make national headlines. Sadly it failed to make the news cycle because it's not an uncommon occurrence in urban areas.

Last summer, you'll recall, the popular urban fad was youths running rampant, looting stores and stealing from anyone they came in contact with. The national media termed this a "flash mob" instead of thug criminals gone wild.

As frightening as this sick trend may be, the larger story involves parents.

The Central Park incident occurred at 5:30 a.m. on a Monday morning.

So the obvious question is how and why were these young thugs roaming and rampaging at that time of day? And where were the parents?

These were not simply misguided youths. Let's quit kidding ourselves.

This was a small mob of future prison inmates who lacked any parental supervision. In short, the thugs are the problem and the parents should be held responsible.

We talk big talk in society about social ills. About lowered school performance. About a growing lack of respect for the law among our younger people.

But we rarely address the core issue and that is the sorry state of parenthood in today's society.

In a somewhat connected issue, we talk about the concerns over Common Core curriculum in our school systems as if a change in the teaching process will somehow magically improve test scores and student achievement.

Well here's a dirty little secret.

If kids lack parental guidance and are not taught at home on the importance of respect and responsibility, the teaching methods matter little.

Talk to anyone in the law enforcement community or the justice system and they will tell you that the common thread in so very much of their work is the lack of parental guidance.

And what can you expect when the single parent households top 75 percent in some communities. In fact a recent report out of Baltimore showed the minority single parent number at 80 percent.

But it's far too simple to put the blame on the single mom. We all can cite examples of kids raised in single-parent households who achieved, were respectful and responsible and who eventually became a productive member of society.

Whether single parent or not, the key is the guidance and structure and rules imposed in those households. And absent that home environment, society will eventually pay a steep price for those parents who abandon their responsibility and expect a "village" to raise that child.

You won't hear much about the rampaging youth who commit crimes and violence because, quite frankly, it's far too common.

But even more rare is a discussion on the root problem that some parents are ill-equipped morally or intellectually to raise children.

Problems and solutions both often start in the home.

But we don't discuss this element because we don't know where to start.

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