July 2, 2014
I had the pleasure to participate in a panel called “Why Do Some Boys Grow Up To Be Dangerous Men?” It was held in partnership with City of Cleveland Councilman Kevin Conwell and featured various panel members. In preparation of part II of the conversation, which will be held in the City of East Cleveland on July 21, 2014 at the East Cleveland Public Library, I want to recap some of the findings of this first event.
The first noticeable takeaway was that the audience was mainly populated by mature adults. By mature adults I am referring to the residents who support strong families and strong communities. I hoped that there would be a larger majority of young people at the forum but, as with many of the events today, there were only a few. I personally drove a few teens to the event, but instead of being present at a forum that could affect the future of this community, many young people, who were in the same building, were either not asked to attend or ignored the significance of the discussion.
The second take-a-way was how the main topic of conversation leaned in the direction of father’s rights. This was a very productive discussion considering that the panel included the very knowledgeable Al Grimes from the Cuyahoga County Fatherhood initiative. Accordingly, the participants were able to get very valuable information on this topic. Specifically, many of the participants left enriched on how to establish paternity and work within the legal system to ensure that they are given the right to visitation and enjoyment of their children. When I rose to speak I mentioned fatherhood from a different angle. I discussed the feeling of parents when their young children go astray. I discussed how it’s the responsibility of the parents to make sure their young children don’t grow up to be dangerous. I discussed how my heart cries out every time I see a person in my courtroom who is living below their potential by choosing to live a life of crime and destruction.
As a Judge I see dangerous men and women everyday who did not start out that way. I come face to face with people who have lost hope and who are not concerned about themselves, their community or other people. This discussion is very important. The evidence of dangerous men and women is constantly on display. Just this past weekend in the city of Cleveland there were four shooting deaths. We see that everyone expresses outrage over killings but very few are willing to do anything about it. This reactionary yet lackadaisical approach to stopping crime is evident by the lack of media attention or leadership support at this particular event. There were no news cameras and there was no joining of forces with the other Cleveland Council members. In my experience, any serious change and advancement to stop the trend of dangerous men and women must be approached by massive collaboration. It takes a village to create a positive community. The next forum, “Why Do Young Boys Grow into Dangerous Men,” that I host in East Cleveland, will boldly address the problem, the lack of community collaboration but most importantly, the possible solutions.
For more discussion on this subject or others, join Judge Dawson’s Cycle Breaker/Finish First program on Monday nights at 5:30pm at the East Cleveland Municipal Court. East Cleveland Municipal Court’s Judge William L. Dawson is on a mission to help people to Finish First, live their best lives and be Cycle Breakers!