July 30, 2014
If you were not at the East Cleveland Public Library on Monday July 21, 2014 you missed a very powerful forum. I know that some people had other obligations and commitments but one group who was absent, and thereby raised a few eyebrows, was the media! For weeks the media has been reporting on the violence in Cleveland and across our country, identifying young men as a growing problem. However, when given the opportunity to be in a room full of solutions they all decided to pass.
As a Cycle Breaker and Change-Agent, it’s my obligation to pass the valuable information exchanged at this forum on to you.
Take-a-Way #1 - The community must get involved in the lives of young people. Our youth, though many times portrayed as dangerous, our still young people who are waiting to be lead, influenced and guided. Yes some have become dangerous for one reason or another, but even those, when given the opportunity, want to show the good in their hearts. As leaders and adults we must attempt to connect with our youth. Connecting can be in the form of joining forces with a community organization, stopping by and attending school functions or just speaking to the young man who lives on your street. Youth, like any other group of people, are much more comfortable acting rebellious and defiant when they have no connections. Getting involved in the lives of young people is key to stopping violence in our communities. In fact, the community must be a partner in the concept of all change. We sit in our homes and behind our computers expressing disappointment with the current violence, government and decisions yet some people never step from behind their closed doors to be an active visible participant in the change they seek.
Take-a-Way #2 - Fathers must take care of their responsibility. It was so eloquently put during the forum that “I should not have to raise or take care of your child.” This statement seems obvious but the statistic of single parent homes, men going to jail and unemployed show that too many men are not fully taking care of their responsibility. The responsibilities of fathers go beyond financial. When a father is in a child's life that father can teach the child right from wrong and, more importantly, a present father can give a child daily physical examples of manhood. Take-a-Way #3 - concerned community citizens must collaborate. In our communities there is organization after organization all doing the same thing. This would be a great thing but for the reality that most of these organizations are not working together. Instead they are fighting for recognition, fighting for attendance and fighting for grant dollars. In fact, the ability to receive grant money to run community organizations has turned normally disengaged people into money hungry non-profits. Instead of every one looking to get paid to run a program, organizations must come together to service the youth and community. Lack of collaboration creates duplicated services which ends up confusing the youth who are in need of help. Take-a-Way #4 - Don’t kill your future. If there was no other take-a-way from the forum on “Why Young Boys Grow Up To Be Dangerous Men” it was the message, “Don’t kill your future.” This message was so powerful that I will fully address it in upcoming articles, but for now I will reveal to you that decisions you make and actions you take right now will determine your destination and destiny!
Are you going to sit back and complain about the state of our youth and our communities or help solve the problems? This forum set the road map for positive change.
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!