Editorial — Let's Re-open the Girls and Boys Club

BY ROBERT MORALES

This week we saw the results of what happens in an urban city. We saw what amounted to anarchy in Baltimore by a group of hoodlums that turned against police and burned buildings, as well as cause general chaos. It was an ugly picture by any objective measure.

Although the underlying excuse for the so-called protesters was the killing of Freddie Grey, a black man at the hands of police, it was just that – an excuse for looting and rioting in the streets of an already troubled city.

We were told by TV reporters that these were “kids,” young persons between the ages of `14 and 18. We were also told by a handful of persons acquainted with inner city problems that this is what happens when black and under-privileged youth don’t have anything better to do.

Again, these are mere justifications for which there is no justification. It is true that Baltimore has long had social issues with high unemployment, neighborhood blight and high crime, but we must examine the root cause, and in general, the finger can be pointed at poor parenting.

We also saw the image of a mother disciplining her teenage son for being on the streets of Baltimore, a single mother who truly cared about her son. There are probably several of those mothers who want only the best for their children.

While Baltimore cannot be compared in any manner to Van Horn, the issue of parenting remains an issue. There are too many parents in this town who are too busy working more than one job to tend to their kids. It could be argued that for these parents, they view their children being at school as a day-care center. Most teachers, although they may not see it that way, actually play the role of the parent because too many of our kids are not getting the attention they need at school.

There are no quick fixes for these social problems. Most of us were blessed with loving, caring parents who didn’t allow us to get into trouble. Unfortunately, today, that’s not the case.

For many years, the Boys and Girls Club served as a place that school kids of all ages could attend after school to keep them engaged, entertained and even educated. Melinda Baeza, the former director of the Club, was a fixture at the Boys and Girls Club, and now that the Club is no longer in existence, she still volunteers her time to help kids of all ages at the Club.

There is no excuse for the lack of funding for such a worthwhile program. The facility has everything it needs to help some of our most at –risk children. For some kids, this was a wonderful experience that they enjoyed daily, and it is a shame that no one has given it a second thought to find suitable funding.

The teen years are already tough enough, but when we have the added burdens of  having a less-than-ideal home life, then this is when our kids can get into trouble. We could help prevent this by reopening the Boys and Girls Club, but is anybody listening?