Rev. dr. Janis c. Brooks for 18th Pennsylvania congressional district
Eight of my family members have been killed because of violence: seven due to being shot and one because of a stabbing. I do not want to officiate another funeral service associated with an untimely death. Entire generations of families have been destroyed. Legislation must be developed to prevent youth from obtaining street guns and we must examine the social implications of youth involvement in gangs.
Pennsylvania has the highest incarceration rate of minorities and Blacks in the nation. Without the presence of a positive role model in the home, our youth will resort to street violence and join gangs as they try to replace the missing positive home relationships. When a parent is removed from the home because of violent death or incarceration, youth become angry and are more prone to become involved in the juvenile justice system. Youth have to be taught that there is value to life and they do not have to expect an untimely death. This can be done in after-school and community-based programs by individuals who have knowledge or who have participated in the street lifestyle.
Previously incarcerated individuals must be given job-training and counseling services to prevent recidivism. Investment in parenting services, and job placement will assist in restoring hope and a sense of pride to former inmates and those involved in street activity. Crime is not limited to the inner city but impacts every citizen because violence has become commonplace, and bullets do not have specific names of individuals. Teachers, police officers, social workers and others who work closely with the vulnerable population should participate in cross cultural relationship programming. Children of the offenders need services to assist them in understanding that they have not been left without someone to love them.