The X Fact(her) – Promises are Hard to Keep

For a long time, when I saw kids who are out of control, hugging the

block, angry and violent I’d think, “It’s the parents’ fault.”

While I still consider the lack of parenting and solid family structure

as contributing to the demise of young people, I’ll admit that there

are other factors outside of the home that are leading our youth to

fail.

Congressman Robert C. Scott wants to save the kids or at least prevent

them from falling victim to the lack of resources in their communities

and ending up either dead or in jail. Seems as though he’s one of the

few up in Capitol Hill, who recognizes the flawed and failing

infrastructure as well as policies that are making it hard for young

black and brown kids (as well as white) kids to succeed. Scott

represents Virginia and serves as the Chairman of the House Judiciary

Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security.

If passed, Scott’s Youth Prison Reduction through Opportunities,

Mentoring, Intervention, Support and Education (“Youth Promise”) Act

will:

– Form a local council called a Promise Coordinating Council (“PCC”)

within communities facing the greatest youth gang and crime challenges

o These PCC will include representatives from law enforcement, court

services, schools, social service organizations, health and mental

health providers and community-based organizations, including

faith-based organizations

o The PCC will then develop a comprehensive plan for implementing

evidence-based prevention and intervention strategies

– Hire and train law enforcement officers as youth-oriented police to

work with PCCs, other community-based organizations, and high-risk

youth. Establishes a Center for Youth-Oriented Policing

Supported by over 40 House members, who are co-sponsoring the

legislation and more than 140 organizations across the country including

99problems.org and The League of Young Voters, the Youth Act has a good

chance of passing when it reaches the floor.

But will it do what it’s set out to do?

If you look past all the political jargon, the Youth Promise Act plans

to funnel government monies into local organizations that in turn will

create programs (mentoring, after school, gang and drug prevention

groups) to keep kids off the streets.

While this Act is commendable and has the potential to make a

difference, I think it looks at a small percent of what the problem with

our kids really is. Sure, the pressure to be paid and protected leads

some kids to join gangs and sell drugs. There is no doubt that the lack

of libraries, books, computers, etc is stifling the learning process of

kids in the hood. Either way you find yourself assed out and caught up

in some drama your mama can’t bail you out from.

These are the obvious.

I’m talking about the other factor: The kids, themselves, not wanting

anything different.

The condition of young people is so set that even their conditioning has

been conditioned. It’s like setting a caged animal free after 15

years. They might not know how to walk on grass or hunt for food. Where

is the legislation to deal with youth people’s low self-esteem,

psyches and shattered dreams? We could call it the “Youth Therapy

Act”.

Or, what about legislation that teaches parents how to parent. I’d

said it before and I’ll say it again, I strongly believe that men and

women should have to pass a written exam and provide bank statements

before being allowed to have children. There is no reason why it should

be harder to adopt a dog or rent an apartment than it is to bring

another life into the world. This would be the “Act like a Parent

Act”.

The reality is the Youth Promise Act will pump money into poor

communities, build new programs and offer support to existing

youth-oriented programs. The other reality is only a small percentage of

the targeted kids will show up. Reason being the disenfranchisement of

our youth goes deeper than lack of money, programs and opportunities.

Still in all, I applaud Congressman Scott for this attempt at making a

difference.

Now if only we can get someone in Capitol Hill to present a bill that

stops the building of prisons.

– CH

The X Fact(her) is a weekly column that appears on 99problems.org.

Started on Inauguration Day 2009 by the League of Young Voter’s

Education Fund, 99problems.org is a non-profit initiative that aims

to keep young people engaged in the political process through activism

and community involvement. Please visit 99problems.org to find out how

you can get involved right now! For more on Chloé A. Hilliard visit

www.chloehilliard.com

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