Opinion: Strong, two-parent homes are needed to help curb crime

For Atlanta police chief talks about spike in crime across city

For Atlanta police chief talks about spike in crime across city

From Bankhead to Buckhead, Macon to Marietta, and Savannah to Sandy Springs, 2020 marked a year of a dramatic rise in violent crime across Georgia. And despite data recently cited by Atlanta Police Chief Rodney Bryant, many citizens feel that metro Atlanta is not safe in 2021 when thoughts to just drive through parking lots of shopping malls (never mind, entering) promote pause for those who hope to live another day. Unquestionably, violent crime is a public health crisis.

We hear the big words officials pitch to fight crime: The Atlanta Policing Alternatives and Diversion Initiative. Fulton County’s Scorpion Unit. Gov. Brian Kemp’s Crime Suppression Unit; and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’ Anti-Violence Advisory Council that recently called for a new city office and, sans specifics, asked for help from community groups.

Politicians are blaming each other. The police blame the pandemic. Many public citizens point fingers at the police. But with all that talking and public display, not one official mentioned those who really need to hunker down and do their job: Parents.

Dr. Melody T. McCloud

Credit: contributed

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Credit: contributed

The Jan. 10, 2021, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution featured stories about crime, reporting in part that nearly 80 percent of victims were Black men; and that 73 of the 157 homicides occurred in southwest Atlanta alone. Based on security camera videos, and mugshots of those charged, far too many of the suspects are young Black men. Bottoms, Bryant, and Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis all concur that 70 percent of violent crimes are gang-related and are committed by juveniles.

It must be said: There is a pink elephant in the room that few in the Black community want to publicly address: The diminution of intact Black marital family structure is a pox that detracts from a people’s success and destroys lives. We cannot have a police officer on every corner; but we should have parents — yes, a married father and mother — in every home to again instill in their children discipline, values, godly living and a respect for life, with no thought of guns or gangs.

I never knew any of my grandparents. I had an absentee father and a mother “with issues.” I was a latchkey kid. Yet I was disciplined and taught values. I also had self-determination to rise above my dire circumstances. Many of today’s youth were born to many who had uninvolved parents, and modern distractions such as social media and celebrity culture cloud the focus of some. That’s all the more reason why future parents need to be taught how to parent and be given resources.

Now before some get too giddy that I call for more input from Black parents, whites and others have their own internal ills, including opioid abuse, racial hatred and more.

As the country and communities seek new ideas to combat crime, here are a few of mine, not yet voiced by others; and yes, mostly geared to the Black community:

■ Return to God. Marry before having babies. Establish intact family units. Children need their mothers and fathers. They need structure and discipline -- give it. Step away from the mind clutter of social media and celebrity culture.

■ Waiting rooms at Grady Memorial Hospital and other obstetrical clinics can loop “parenting” advice videos, with information about educational parenting programs and services. Repeatedly inform of venues and classes other than “recreation centers,” where kids can learn a skill, discover a talent, and hone grooming and social skills.

■ Consider the cost of uninvolved parenting, including Borderline Personality Disorder: Youth with inconsistent or absent parenting, insufficient parental time, parental loss due to death or divorce, and who experience emotional or sexual abuse are at increased risk. Those factors lead to antisocial behavior: Inappropriate anger and rage, altered self-image, a sense of worthlessness, mood swings and a lack of impulse control. Many of today’s criminally active youth have those risk factors and exhibit those symptoms.

■ Realign funds and priorities. In 2017, over $470 million was spent on “hair”; plus more on tattoos, sneakers and cosmetics. Spend money on etiquette and swim lessons, education and STEM camps for your kids.

■ Schools and jails should have intake surveys, to assess family structure. Identify youth whose home lives put them most at risk of aberrant behavior, such as BPD. A baseline blood analysis for neuroendocrine transmitters can help assess impulse control.

Rev. Dr. Wyatt T. Walker was Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s executive administrative assistant. He was also my pastor, father-figure; and, for decades, one who took me under his wing. He’d often speak of the Civil Rights movement. I state with certainty that today’s violent crime was not the goal. A McCloudism: “Martin Luther King, et al, didn’t march, bleed and die for [folks] to be acting like this.”

The Black community today is hemorrhaging from many self-inflicted wounds. Without parents doing their part to remedy the above-mentioned ills, the Black community, and our city, will remain in grave condition.

Dr. Melody T. McCloud is an obstetrician-gynecologist, author and media consultant. She is founder and medical director of Atlanta Women’s Health Care, P.C. She is affiliated with Emory University Hospital Midtown and is an Emory University Ambassador.