Squires: Nothing would reduce crime in black neighborhoods more than family, faith and fathers

Al Sharpton’s recent crime summit in Harlem is a necessary reminder that a few more black faces in the statehouse aren’t nearly as important as a black father in his own home.

The longtime civil rights activist called a meeting with Mayor Eric Adams, New York State Attorney General Letitia James, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, and several other prominent black leaders in New York City and state politics to discuss violent crime and discuss public safety.

As in many large cities, most murder victims and perpetrators in New York are black. Unfortunately, street crime is far less of a topic of discussion on CNN than police misconduct, but the city is fighting the perception that it is sinking into a state of chaos and disorder. While the city’s 433 homicides in 2022 represented an 11% decrease from 2021, serious crimes increased by 23%.

No one wants to live in 1990’s New York where more than 2,000 murders were committed, so I’m confident that this meeting will bear good fruit over time. One thing I can (almost) guarantee is that very little attention is paid to the role families play in crime prevention.

I know from my own experience. I worked in local government in Washington, DC for over a decade and spent the last year at the city’s Office of Gun Violence Prevention.

It was a new initiative that mobilized the whole government to tackle gun crime from a public health perspective. Prevention and intervention were top priorities as the criminal justice experts insisted there was no getting out of the problem. The people who spearheaded efforts to ease tensions after a shooting or connect a formerly incarcerated resident to vocational training were devoted to their communities.

But there was one glaring gap in the violence prevention ecosystem that complicated our work: parents and families.

No amount of planning and strategy regarding gun violence will be successful if elected officials and their advisors ignore the role that families play in socialization and the development of values. When a teenager shoots and kills one of their peers, the first adults who should be held accountable for their actions are their parents, not teachers or social workers.

This all-encompassing view of government has acted as a cultural steroid for decades, deforming corporations by increasing the power of elected officials and unelected bureaucrats while the American family has atrophied.

A 13-year-old in Washington, DC, was recently shot dead after being confronted by a homeowner at 4am. The boy was described by a local media outlet as “manipulating” cars in the neighborhood before he was shot. The death of a teenager is a tragic event regardless of the circumstances, but several online commenters led with a variation on the statement “Property isn’t worth taking a teenager’s life for” instead of the more obvious observation: a 13-year-old should be in bed by 4am and not try to steal cars.

This is not blaming the victim. It shifts responsibility to where it belongs. We would hold a police chief accountable when his officers routinely engage in illegal behavior on duty. We would hold a school principal accountable if several teachers at her school were caught having illegal sexual relations with students. Likewise, we should hold parents accountable for the behavior of their underage children.

If there’s one thing that liberals — including black elected officials — are sadly allergic to, it’s the idea that black people should be held accountable for everything we think, say or do.

Because of this, their responses to any social ill in black neighborhoods always begin with more funding for social welfare programs. For these leaders, blacks do not act of their own free will. We are controlled by past trauma, present discrimination, and the extent to which our material needs are met.

Far too many intellectuals and politicians on the left speak and act as if moral reasoning and emotional regulation were for whites.

A white man caught on videotape in frustration with racial slurs during an altercation with a black man is an evil fanatic. A black man who uses a gun to settle his differences with another black man is the victim of systematic disinvestment in his community.

That’s the hard bigotry of not having expectations.

This worldview is the furthest from empowerment. Getting more black politicians into office is a win for people worshiping at the altar of “representation,” but it brings no tangible benefits to people living in high-crime neighborhoods. So I’m not nearly as excited about the fact that the mayor of the four largest cities in the country are all black, as some people may be. Unless the state of Black family life improves, this historic first will only mean a change in the skin color of the people who have taken on the role of “father” in many neighborhoods.

Elected officials can change laws and make policies, but outside of incarceration they cannot stop a person from committing a crime. What they can do is enforce the law and make it clear that anti-social, criminal behavior will not be tolerated. You can also encourage the formation of strong families, composed of a married father and mother raising their children in a loving, low-conflict home improved the opportunities for positive social and emotional outcomes.

These are the types of homes that can start reversing our crime trends. Nothing would reduce the footprint of black neighborhood cops more than a resurgence of faith, family and fathers. That might mean fewer brown faces in the halls of power for a while, but that’s a trade I’m willing to make.

https://www.theblaze.com/fearless/oped/squires-crime-faith-family-fathers Squires: Nothing would reduce crime in black neighborhoods more than family, faith and fathers

Laura Coffey

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