Saturday, November 24, 2007

Mentors for Children

On Monday, the 19th of November, on WVEE’s Porsche Foxx show, Sisters in Law™ discussed children and the law. One caller indicated that she was considering referring her 13 year old son to Juvenile Court for "unruliness." He refused to obey, was insolent, not doing his best in school. Davida and I both cautioned against this move, except perhaps as a last resort. A black female police officer called in to echo our advice. Reporting your child to the court system engages the entire family in the court process, disrupts family relationships and may subject your child to unwanted and unwarranted intrusion for months or years.

What to do then? Contact your church, enroll your child in sports, music or art classes. If you are not going to church, start. Church provides a basic framework to help children understand the difference between right and wrong. Making that distinction on their own avoids the need to have the courts do it for them.

Ask male family members for support. Increase the amount of visitation you permit the child’s father. Consider sending your errant son/daughter to live with his/her father for awhile, if that is feasible. Children act out as one way of expressing the need for more attention. It was not surprising that the vast majority of our recent calls came from families with four or more children.

What is the child interested in? Find a structured program that speaks to that interest. There are lots of mentoring programs offered in Metro Atlanta. Some of the best Metro Atlanta mentoring programs are listed below.

100 Black Men of DeKalb County
1804 Bouldercrest Road, SE • Suite 700 • Atlanta, GA 30316 Phone: 404.288.2772 Fax: 404.288.0107 Email: info@dekalb100blackmen.orgExecutive Director/COO • Mae Jones •

Hank Stewart Foundation
(404) 328-0095

Frank Ski Kids Foundation
217-9 16th Street Atlanta, GA 30363404.870.0230 – phone 404.870.0240 – fax

Big Brothers Big Sisters
100 Edgewood Ave NE # 710, Atlanta
(404) 527-7600
Another Way Out, Inc.
1180 Utoy Springs Rd. Atlanta,Georgia 30331Office: 404-349-4712 Fax: 404-349-4838
Nydia Bright, Program Coordinatoremail:

Atlanta Youth Coalition
Dominic Stokes
(678) 438 5051

It was interesting to me that virtually every caller had at least four children, the dad was not actively involved, the mom was working and the child was 13-14 years old. Look around. Find a child. Lend a hand. We can all do something to help.

And then, we need to have the difficult discussion about deciding to become a parent. If he already has kids he is not supporting, don't get pregnant. If you are a teen-ager, don't get pregnant. If you already have two or more children and no committed mate, don't get pregnant. If you are already having a hard time making ends meet, don’t get pregnant. If you have not finished high school - don’t get pregnant. If you are single, two kids are probably enough. Birth control is more effective, cheap and available than ever.

Take a hard look at marriage. Men who make the commitment of marriage are generally better fathers and pay child support at a much higher rate even when the marriage does not work out. 70% of black children are born out of wedlock. Moms may not want/need a husband, but children need committed dads. Girls need dads as much as boys do. As the discussion on Monday graphically revealed, rebellion just after puberty is typical - not extraordinary. The question is how do we marshal sufficient resources to deal with this natural phenomenon?