"God's Appeal to This Age"
The Search for Alternatives to Violence
He was only five years old, so the morning news report did not reveal his name. We were told only that the child lived in the Bronx and that there was now a security guard assigned to his elementary school, because he had brought a loaded handgun to the school. That was more than enough for me.
Perhaps the brief report struck with such force because I remembered my own kindergarten days in Harlem, my high school years in the Bronx. But I was certainly not alone in claiming this little boy. Many of us knew his name. It was written on the consciousness of concerned parents, teachers, neighbors, and ministers of religion everywhere. We recognized his. face, in all its manifestations, in all its pain, innocent confusion, warped pride, and fear. Whether five or fifteen, or caught in any of the dangerous manchild ages between and beyond, he was recognizable to us. There, standing naked to the world, robbed of his childhood, recruited into the force-ripened armies of drug runners, gang members, macho men, in danger of early corruption by some of this country's worst values and by its terrible romance with the gun, he was our child, reminding us of so much, warning us.
Everywhere in America there is a deep, often unarticulated fear that the violence of our culture is out of hand and that our children may be among its most vulnerable victims. How do