I talked to the grandmother for 10 minutes. And you know what I learned? These were young boys who did not know how to resolve conflict. This was a schoolyard fight, only with guns.
I’ve been waiting for leaders of this city to tell me what’s going on. But the truth came from this grandmother.
We cannot address crime without addressing mental health for our young boys.
Fighting is a natural instinct for boys. But we have to figure out how to teach them to fight without guns. Broken bones and black eyes will heal, but you can’t undo bullets.
More importantly, they need to learn how to de-escalate a fight.
It’s a perfect storm, really. They haven’t been in school, and the normal boys and girls clubs and other programs couldn’t meet because of COVID.
And where are the parents, you ask? Many are working two jobs.
As a community, we have to figure out how to reach these boys.
I don’t write policy, and I don’t even pretend to.
What I am is a single mother, a citizen, and a person who is willing to serve.
But I need leadership.
I need to know more about the problem and then information on how I can help.
This should be a regular press conference like COVID because our crime rates are a public health issue. In fact, they’re a direct outcome of COVID.
This is not the post I wanted to make after my vacation, which was blissful, BTW.
But I’m home now. That’s right, Atlanta is my home and I care about it very much.
Maria Balais is principal of The Balais Group, a community engagement consulting firm. She is a graduate of Agnes Scott College and the author of a memoir called “Pinky.”