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Community love

“A nation or civilization that continues to produce soft-minded men purchases its own spiritual death on an installment plan.”

— Martin Luther King, Jr.

Mayor Dave Bing and Gov. Rick Snyder are shameless.

With the recent rise in youth violence and the tragic deaths of children, the governor says it is a police problem and the mayor claims we need to raise children better.

As public officials in control of public resources and assets they are both woefully ill-equipped to deal with the problems of the day.

When facing rising and record-breaking numbers of youth killings, officials in Chicago began consulting with professors, authors, scientists of human behavior to learn causes and possible remedies for the growing number of deaths and the public implications.

On one front, the Chicago public schools initiated a plan that identified 10,000 students at high risk of becoming victims of violence and pinpointed 1,200 of them as being at the highest risk. They developed a plan that called for giving those highest-risk students a paying job, a 24-hour on-call advocate and a routine assessment by social workers. Expensive, for sure, but a plan — more than lame offerings from our mayor and governor.

Here in Detroit, Bing’s incompetence closed recreation centers and returned tens of millions in federal rehab funds that could have created a few jobs and a better environment. He ignored any suggestion for summer youth employment programs.

Experts say to effectively limit youth violence, the mental health issues behind the violence must be addressed. Students can develop depression and post-traumatic stress disorder that may get misdiagnosed or go untreated.

If, as the experts say, a healthy environment with a good support system is a requisite to a peaceful childhood, then the future is looking brighter. A growing number of young men in the community are coming to the rescue.

Four recent examples: The young men who have organized the Financial Asset Research Commission recently held an informative session on correcting the education gap in the Highland Park schools; the organizers of Democracy Works and their efforts to inform and engage urban youth in the political life of the community; the 26 young men honored by Black Male Engagement for their efforts at reaching out to youth; and a number of other youth engaging activities from Brightmoor to the east side.

When picking our next round of public officials, let’s keep in mind that we need more than old basketball players and rich businessmen who can create jobs for the Chinese. Let’s attend the many forums around the community, join in and at the same time begin to identify these emerging young people who not only feel rooted in the community but also demonstrate a love for it as well.

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