Parents Need Help to Keep Their Children Safe

Article excerpt

Byline: Adrienne T. Washington, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

When my children were teenagers and they didn't meet the curfew their parents set, do you think we paced the floor waiting for them to come home to give them a scolding that surely was bound to go in one ear and out the other?

Not on their lives. And guess who went to fetch them? Their father, or me, or both of us were not a welcoming sight.

Nothing gives a child more incentive to bring their shakin' booties home "from the club" in order to beat the curfew clock than the surefire embarrassing knowledge that Mom or Dad will show up at the club, too. Not to dance, but to haul them outta there in front of friends, foes and, God forbid, the boy or girl they had been flirting with all night.

Years later, we laugh about it, but they still talk about the terror that struck their hearts - not only of us, mind you, but also of the resulting peer pressure - when we went to collect them to make a parental point.

That point - one that seems to be lost today on so many parents - is to instill the unmistakable idea that you are in charge and your children must live by your rules.

Being a parent is not for weaklings. Most children do tell you later that while they may not have understood the parental commandments as a child, they appreciate them as an adult.

All that said, I am fully aware that my children were fortunate enough to benefit from living in a two-parent household, surrounded by large extended families. Being a single parent, even as I have discovered later in life, is as mammoth a challenge as any adult will ever face. Single parents need all the help they can get from all corners of the community.

It certainly shouldn't fall to the police to round up teenagers and take them home after hours. But it is law enforcement's responsibility to do a much better job of community policing by protecting property and the public, especially its children, which they seem hard-pressed to handle, given the rise of juvenile violence.

Yet, as another Ballou High School student was killed in a drive-by shooting after leaving a club early Sunday morning, D.C. officials, including Mayor Anthony A. Williams, Ward 8 D.C. Council member Marion Barry and Principal Daniel Hudson stood on the sidewalk and spoke in front of television cameras and talked out of both sides of their mouths.

Lavelle Jones, 16, was the fourth person with ties to Ballou to die violently in the past 14 months.

On the one hand, Mr. Williams continued his track record of making more empty promises about providing more youth services. On the other hand, he and Mr. Hudson seemed to shift the blame to parents, saying a 16-year-old should not be out at 2 a.m., the time Lavelle was shot.

Disciplining children is not the government's responsibility, Mr. Williams and Mr. …