I was able to only catch half of the 9:00 P.M. show tonight focused on inner-city youth and the "problem" they present to society. It is very clear to me, as it was to the woman narrating, that these children severely lack many essential things including direction and proper adult supervision. However, I am sick of hearing that "whitey" is the problem. While she did briefly state that blaming whites is too simple, I am sick of this concept taking control of our culture.
I do agree that whitey is the problem only with respect to the fact that 45 years of white liberal "guilt" policies and social programs have managed to bury the black pride and all hope along with it. We have told these people that they are not worthy of level competition in a free market society, so we prop them up in an effort to right past wrongs. In fact, the exact opposite has happened.
The statement that really annoys me, seemingly in DEFENSE of murder or some other violent crime is "let's see what you do if you live in the projects and you ain't got no money." This is all too often said in public with no correction or contest by interviewer, news reader, narrator, etc.
That fact is that morals and a value system are not determined by economic condition. 14 years ago I was homeless, jobless, and living in a car I had purchased only a few years earlier when time were better. I did not rob, kill, rape, steel, etc. No, I choose to take responsibility for myself and, through great effort, pull myself out of total poverty into what is now considered upper middle class. I am not a genius. I hold every person on this planet to this very same standard, and I expect all people to act responsibly regardless of economic or social condition.
What ever happened to the concepts that made this country great? Individualism has become a politically incorrect term seemingly synonymous with white racism. I will never be afraid to treat people of color, handicapped, or women with anything other than absolute respect unless they demonstrate otherwise. Programs like tonight's Frontline are really weighing the scales in favor of me treating most inner city youth as just what they are - CRIMINALS.
Last night I stumbled upon your in depth documentary about the desperate situation the young people of our country face while trying to grow up in the inner city. I wanted to applaud this wonderful piece of unbiased journalism! I have never seen a more realistic depiction of the true emotions which drive both the children and parents living in the inner city. Bravo! Life and death is not a glorified punchline to a 90 minute theater experience, it is a true American tragedy.
Your proposed solution is one which I have supported for several years. Young professionals need to get involved and reach out to these young men and women and show them that they can indeed dream. The true tragedy lies with corporate America. Men and women too concerned about tax loopholes, corporate politics, and insulating their bottom line have lost track of their societal obligations. Not only do they actively seek to minimize the amount of money that they are obliged to contribute, they amplify the tragedy by turning their backs on those disadvantaged individuals who have worked hard to improve their lives. Shame on the men and women who dictate policy from behind closed doors. The government and industry should WANT to create opportunity for these people.
It is time for the American public to demand better financial, educational, and social support for the youth of our country. We need to hold the leaders of our country accountable for this situation. We need to lead them to the proper solution. It is time to for everyone to extend a kind hand and lift these children onto our backs. From this vantage point, their dreams will not only come into focus, they will come true.
R. C. K. M.D.
I viewed your program titled A Kid Kills, and I felt disappointed with the analysis that was given as to why children kill. The producer of the program failed to concentrate more on the family structure. Instead, the primary explanation as to why children become criminals was blamed on the failure of our society or social systems to curve this destructive behavior. I submit to PBS that this type of liberal bias always fails to elucidate the central cause of such problems. The source of violent behavior is primarily within the family. This program was anemic in terms of focusing on the families of these children. For example, the amount of violence that they were exposed to within the family. The amount of neglect that they experienced from their parents. Any type of substance abuse that they had witnessed from family members. Furthermore, the program never dealt with the culture of violence that is so prevalent in a ghetto environment. Also, it would have been helpful to contrast the lives of the kids who are criminals from those who are not criminals. In reality, most of the children from ghettos do not eventually lead criminal lives. I hope that Frontline reexamine its criteria on what constitutes a balanced documentary. Thank you.
I found your program called" A Kid Kills" to be very moving. Even as I type this I am overwhelmed with a sense of great loss. The loss of our youth. You see, I grew up in a neighborhood much like the one described in the documentary and can completely relate to the people in it. I escaped it only by prayers of mother and sister. I should also say that your program also let me know that I am doing something right with my own kids. By being a Father that interacts,inspires,challenges and most of all, loves them just the way they are. As a result of your program I am even more determined to teach my 3 kids to reach past the stars and know no limits. Thank you frontline for a non biased, yet compassionate view at our nations greatest tragedy.
I really enjoyed the show about the children living in Orchard Park (the housing project in Boston).
Maybe enjoyed is not the right word. Maybe I should say it affected me profoundly. But I feel guilty just sitting around watching the show and feeling pity because when it comes down to it, my pity isn't helping those kids a bit.
I feel those kids could change and become great people... I could hear it in their voices and naivete. They are still children, but they are victims of poverty and hopelessness. I volunteered often when I was in college. I attended the University of Chicago, and surrounding our campus was a mixture of mansions/condos owned by professors and housing projects lived in by the "neighborhood" kids. I would involve myself in tutoring programs. But when it comes down to it... I am an outsider - I don't understand what they are going through. When they leave the tutoring session - the cookies and hot cocoa I bring them - they have to go home to gun shootings, peer pressure, drugs, abuse, alcoholism, apathy... I want to do something for them, but yet my volunteered time does not seem to help, I don't have a lot of money to give. The government can not wipe out poverty, or it's many symptoms. Who can create change then? Should people throw their hands up in the air and call it quits? Just live in our comfortable suburbs or affluent microcosms within cities and shield ourselves from reality? The only time we seem to take notice is when these kids go out their bounds and attack "one of our own." Then we cry bloody murder and want these children convicted as an adult. Politicians only inflate these problems - all they care about are votes - and the voting population is becoming ever conservative - they want the chair for these kids because they don't understand what it is like to live in fear and to have to be on the defensive all the time. No matter how tough these kids act, they are just frightened little children reacting to their environment. Why can't people try to walk in their shoes and have some compassion.
These Orchard Park kids have a chance for change that maybe the larger city project kids do not. They are not as hardened. I see hope for them, as long as they see it too, there can be change. But who is going to show it to them? It has to be within. An insider who understands and who has overcome all the obstacles. The city also has to work on changing the environment that surrounds the projects. Stimulate business, build new buildings and parks, clean up the area. Attract businesses to set up shop for this area. Government should stop subsidizing lunch meetings, coffee and snacks and get their act together.
Hopeless? I don't know. But it sure looks like that to me often times. Will change ever come? Not as long as there as greed, politics, disproportionate income disparities and a need for the underclass in every society.
I watched your show aired on March 19, 1996, entitled "A Kid Kills". A story about a 15 year old in urban Mass. who killed two other teenagers. I was deeply moved by this story because on January 25, 1996, my younger brother was gunned down by a teenager while sitting in his car. This incident has changed the lives of my entire family to include my aunts, uncles and cousins. My brother was a troubled child, a high school dropout, drug dealer, he even served three years in prison on a drug related incident. However, like so many he returned to the streets even more determined to make it big in the game, as he called it. I tried to understand his gang ties, he claimed the gang showed him much love, the kind of love he could not get at home. I am the oldest of four children. We had a father for a while, but for the most part myself and my mother raised the other children. I left home at 18 to join the miltary. I have done well and tried to act as a positive role model but obviously it was not enough. I applaud you for getting to the real view of life in the inner city. It is a tough life and everyday is adventure. I often go back to my old neighbohood in Chicago and it brings tears to my eyes, it is as if our own government has turned its head and has disowned us. Continue your admirable journalism, get the word out maybe you can save at least one life and shed a glimmer of hope.
This is in response to the show that was aired tonight on March 19, 1996 about the 1992 slayings of two young black men in Boston. While I always enjoy the outstanding in depth reporting I feel that there were a few aspects that the reporter did not seem to take in to consideration. First, that while the death of a child is a tragedy, I think that an examination of the economic conditions would help those of us who do not live in that environment understand what motivates these seemingly sensless acts. I was surprised that no one made more of the quote "...You need money, so you go out and sell crack, get enough to eat and either go home or go back out". This, as both a student and teacher of economics, is by far the motivating force behind the situation we see in the inner cities. As the show demonstrated, those who were able to be successful did not return. Instead of building up the self esteem of children who have been repeatedly disappointed, why are there no incentives for business to open up in these communities besides liquor stores and skating clubs. Role models, while they might have some value as a trustworthy athority figure will not help to get these kids to become employable. The mentors, should do their utmost to bring business to the community. If these kids are no longer faced with a choice of dealing crack or working in McDonalds, but to hold down a job with realistic wages and benefits which are at the skill level obtainable in their area we will not see this type of violence. As was pointed out in the report seven white children are murdered every day, the color that is in question is not that of the perpetrtor or victims, but the color of money. Again, thank you for consistently bringing a fresh view to often overlooked subjects in the American landscape.
I am a former prosecutor. I now defend. I am the father of two boys. Your story is heartbreaking, and altogether too commonplace.
Please tell me: where are the fathers? Is there no correlation between the lack of social constraint in young black males and the lack of positive adult black male role models? Has it not occurred to the black community that, as long as it tolerates irresponsibility by its men, it will cultivate irresponsibility, incivility and lawlessness in its boys?
Being a father is a hard job. Being a responsible father is made nearly impossible when one's male cultural imperative is to deny responsibility for his offspring. The overpowering imperative of any generation is to guarantee the viability of the next one. By abdicating their roles, adult black males continue to doom their children to failure.
I don't want to hear the cliches. There are too many success stories to give them credence. Society is an easy and nebulous target. But if you really want to blame somebody, blame the guy who impregnated his girlfriend, and then discarded both her and the baby like they were candy wrappers - without a thought; without pity. Blame the mother who doesn't care that she is bringing a child into a hopeless situation. Blame the family who does not invest enough pride in their children to instill shame in that behavior.
And when the child grows up and does the same, blame it on society. It's worked before, and is a convenient enough excuse.
The journalist that did this piece did a great job, though the variable in the equation with the largest coefficient was missed, (the most important piece of the pie was not addressed).
For any parent raising children, there is the realization that there are no guarantees. Each child has their own free agency to make choices. Whether they make more right choices than wrong ones, increases or decreases the odds of them becoming productive members of society.
Good parents learn that they can "stack the odds" in favor of their childrens success by the way they teach, support, encourage and love the child. This becomes especially important when young people become teenagers and struggle to find their own identity. It is a time in their lives when they need a family structure for this love, guidance and support. When there is a weak family structure, such as in single parent homes, the odds are stacked against the young person. Often the gang offers the feeling of identity and support that is missing in the home, and tragically fills the void.
Your reporters pledge to return more often to the streets to share of her time is a noble and important one, and will give her great satisfaction as she sees that her actions make a difference in the lives of others. And I agree that more black leaders, (like the judge), should give more of their time to the youth of the community.
Her statement at the end of the program that focuses the blame on successful black people that do not give their time (and example) to the youth is an important factor, but it is not the main cause. The root of the problem is a weak family structure, often caused by the lack of two functioning parents in the home.
In addition to all the great points made in your program tonight, don't forget the largest variable; The lack of both a mother and a father in the home. Social policy should be changed to encourage and support stronger black families with a greater proportion of "whole families".
You solicited this critique; If you agree with my perspective, I would like to know your thoughts on how the family in America can be strengthened. For the sake of our young people, we need to get started.
My husband and I watched your show on 'Kids Who Kill' last night (3-19) and we both felt it was a good program for us to have had the opportunity to see. It raised a lot of issues for us, though. I can't really speak for my husband, although I know he would agree with a lot I have to say.
I don't think the nation's major problems with gangs and killing crisis' generates from our black youth. On the contrary, I feel that most of our youth, no matter their color, are in trouble. Whether they come from dual parent or single parent families, youth today are at a loss for mentors. They are misplacing their admiration on the famous and forgetting about the real heroes out there; the store owners, firefighters, police officers, and teachers, among others. The everyday kind of people who aren't dealing drugs or heading up gangs to boost their lack of self-esteem. It is every race that is going through these problems. It is every race that sells, uses and is dying because of these problems.
Teachers are replacing parents as the adult figures in a lot of children's lives and, more and more recently, teachers don't know how far they can or cannot go in helping them. Speaking as an Elementary Education major, I want to be able to save children from the situations that were discussed in your show. Youth of today need somewhere to go, people to trust and to be rid of the endangerment that the streets offer to them daily. I know I'm speaking idealistically instead of realistically, but the youth needs to see some change in adult behavior, before they will consider change in their own behaviors.
I am a young mother of three and living off welfare, because my husband was laid off two years ago and hasn't been able to find another position, as yet. I don't enjoy living off the state, but I know first hand that the state pays more than $5. an hour. It's no wonder single mothers choose to stay in these positions of welfare. For those that do work, I stand up with applause. I can understand the emotional and financial struggle they must be going through. But, I do not see how our communities and judicial systems can blame the problems of these children on welfare systems or single parents. I was a single parent for 3 years and did everything necessary to see that my children were adequately taken care of. They are wonderful well-rounded children, who love to play sports and actually enjoy going to school.
What we need isn't necessarily welfare reform, but rather government reform of certain departments, which deal with welfare families. If the Department of Human Services knows that a welfare family is experiencing problems with drug or alcohol abuse in the home and it is seriously affecting the child(ren), then why can't a program be implemented in which the child is removed from the home until the problem is resolved in one way or another. I know these programs are suppose to be in effect, but obviously, if a young male is living in a home where his grandfather is solely responsible for him, and yet the grandfather can't even take care of himself, something is very wrong. The young man in your show last night was intelligent in so many ways. The school system should of seen it and the DHS should have helped him to find a better way to live.
Certainly, I don't know all the answers. I was raised in a big city myself (Jacksonville, FL) and have seen friends of mine die as the result of gangs and drive by shootings. I have chosen to move my children out of that element. We live in a much smaller town now (Orono, ME), but it doesn't erase all the anger of America's youth. I'm Hispanic and Native American in background, and the small towns seem to be less acceptant of racial differences than many larger cities. I hope that things change, but know that this is going to take more time than any of have. It has taken centuries just to get to where we are and I'm not so sure where we are is any better.
Thank you for your time and listening to me ramble. This is a very emotional issue and one that is hard to sit and write about for too very long. There is so much to say and really no time to say it all. It would take me days if you allowed me to delve right in to it. So, I'll thank you again for airing this remarkable show. It was good for us to see it. I hope that you'll continue to present such great television to your viewers.