For a long time, when I saw kids who are out of control, hugging the
block, angry and violent Id think, Its the parents fault.
While I still consider the lack of parenting and solid family structure
as contributing to the demise of young people, Ill admit that there
are other factors outside of the home that are leading our youth to
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 hes 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, Scotts Youth Prison Reduction through Opportunities,
Mentoring, Intervention, Support and Education (Youth Promise) Act
- 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
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 its 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 cant bail you out from.
These are the obvious.
Im talking about the other factor: The kids, themselves, not wanting
The condition of young people is so set that even their conditioning has
been conditioned. Its 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 peoples low self-esteem,
psyches and shattered dreams? We could call it the Youth Therapy
Or, what about legislation that teaches parents how to parent. Id
said it before and Ill 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
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
Now if only we can get someone in Capitol Hill to present a bill that
stops the building of prisons.
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