My boyfriend and I were recently watching the movie “Blood Diamond.” Certainly reminds us that we live in a 1st world country as even our poorest people don’t have to live in situations as grave as portrayed in the movie. However, I was still able to draw connections between the life portrayed in the movie and the life of kids and adults who do not receive a quality education in the US.
What I saw portrayed in the movie was a country with very minimal resources and all the people living there gathering into “gangs” and fighting each other for one of the most viable resources the country has – its diamonds. Young children are forced into working manual labor, being recruited for the “gangs,” being turned against their family, being brainwashed into thinking what they are doing is right. All to support individuals at the top, and not actually benefiting the people doing the work.
I gotta say, that sounds like most of the experience of our kids in the streets of the US. Obviously, I haven’t experienced this for myself, but we know these things are happening. The kids in the US may have more government stability, more access to clothes and material things, more access to food, more access to education, more access the healthcare than the kids portrayed in the movie – but their lives function much of the same.
When your family and your school fail to show you the value in being a productive citizen, when schools fail to provide an engaging education and when we fail to listen to and counsel our students – they find a teacher that will. Life on the streets provides a sense of value, power, importance, employment – because kids are not receiving that type of environment at school. And really what is in the middle? Either you see the value of education and want to make a positive life for yourself, or you turn to others who can help you get it in an unproductive way. What does that say for those who follow neither path?
As I examine issues of crime through my role with my Neighborhood Watch, it all comes back to education. Every single criminal has been failed by our education system – likely by others too including their family. But we had a chance to help them see a positive contribution to society and we failed to engage with them in a way that encouraged positive behavior.
And once you commit one or two crimes, now you have to overcome the enormity of little or no education AND have to check the box that you committed a crime. How can you become gainfully employed with no education and a criminal record? If you can’t make an honest living, then you are left to the life of a criminal.
We won’t fight crime with police – fight crime with education.