Good parenting strengthens families, communities, and nations. When children and teenagers are taught and disciplined (another word for taught) properly at home, they are much less likely to have negative run-ins with civil authorities. This is shown in three recent deaths of young teenagers. The best parenting comes from the two biological parents, but it can be done by others, such as stepparents, foster parents, teachers, or coaches.
Adam Toledo, 13-year-old boy from Chicago, was shot and killed around 2:30 a.m. on March 29, 2021, in a confrontation with police. Eric Stillman was pursuing members of the Latin King Gang, who had been shooting at cars. Toledo was with a 21-year-old man, and the two of them fled. Toledo refused to stop when ordered by the cop. A gun was seen in his hand a split-second before the shooting, even though he tossed the gun and was in the process of raising his hands. Numerous people failed Adam as expressed in an article by Mateo Zapata.
At a young age, Adam was categorized as a special education student and separated from everyone else at school. Surrounded by the same six students with varying degrees of severe learning disabilities, Adam didn’t have the chance to develop strong friendships with any of his classmates….
“He once tagged in the school and everyone was obsessed with needing to paint over his tag, but no one took the time to ask why he was tagging in the first place,” one teacher told me. “It was clear he needed someone to talk to and the space to socialize himself better. He really liked to draw, his penmanship was perfect. I think if we offered an art class, he would’ve taken it, but we don’t even offer that to our students. He just needed one friend, one classmate or one other student he could connect with …”
School staff also noticed changes in Adam the past few years. Another educator said he showed up to school with an earring on, shaved a line in his eyebrow and during a crafts activity one day he cut a gun out of paper. Staff tried bringing up concerns, they said, but nobody cared. “He was just one kid, but that one kid mattered to me.
“I don’t think he knew how dangerous his environment was, he was so young. I think there were a lot of factors,” this teacher said. “A lot of people failed him. A lack of socialization around other students is going to lead to something bad. The easy way out was hanging out with people that he thought cared about him.”
At school, Adam described his friends from the neighborhood as “family” and said they “cared a lot about him.”
The article did not say anything about Adam’s parents or family. Where was he living? Who was his guardian? Why was he running around with a 21-year-old man and shooting at cars with a gun at 2:30 a.m.?
The second case shows the loss of two young girls. Nyaira Givens, age 13 years, was a freshman in a high school in Cincinnati, Ohio. She was stabbed to death with a pocketknife by another 13-year-old girl about 9:00 p.m. on Monday, April 19, 2021. The stabbing took place near the victim’s home during a fight. One girl is dead, and the other girl faces a murder charge. Family members said the two girls were former friends, but no one knew why they were fighting.
The questions about this case include why the girls chose to solve their problems with a knife fight. Why were the girls out at 9:00 p.m. on a school night? Why were the girls fighting rather than discussing the problem with parents?
The third involves another cop shooting. Ma’Khia Bryant, age 15-16, was shot by Officer Nicholas Reardon (age 23), while she was in the act of lunging with a knife at two people. The shooting took place in Columbus, Ohio, about 4:30 p.m. on April 21, 2021, after police were called to the scene by a would-be victim. Bryant was living in a foster home and got upset at two former foster sisters who came to visit their mother on her birthday. The foster mother later said that Bryant became angry with the two foster sisters when they indicated that she should make her bed and clean up the house.
I have not read why Bryant was not living with her biological parents. However, the fact that she was in a foster home says that something in the parental home was not right. One girl is dead, while other girls say the officer saved their lives. Even though the officer shot Bryant to save the foster sisters, Black Lives Matter (BLM) members are demanding his arrest for murder. It is one more case of White cop shooting Black teenager.
Most children and teenagers being reared in loving homes with intentional parenting by their biological parents do not join gangs or have knife fights. This statement applies in cases of disabled, average, or gifted children: most members of the rising generation reared with intentional parenting do not get in serious trouble. When parents are present in the life of a young person and acting for the good of the child, they can strengthen their family, community, and nation.