The Center for Racial Harmony this week sponsored a forum on getting involved with our schools that underscored the importance of parental involvement. Not even 50 people showed up, which in itself is a commentary on the problem.
We were struck by the thoughts on parental responsibility shared by two of our law enforcement leaders.
St. Clair County Sheriff Rick Watson said the problem is the parents, but they don't shoulder sole responsibility. He said society shares the blame.
"We have scared every parent. They are afraid to discipline their kids, and we did that as a society," Watson said.
He said the parents and schools need to become disciplinarians again.
We imagine most parents know the difference between slapping their child at the discount store and denying them their game console because they didn't clean their room. We're not sure that society is to blame for individual parents failing to assume their parental responsibilities and impose discipline.
We imagine the real culprits are too little face time with their kids, too little judgment as to when to be a parent instead of a friend and too much effort to protect youngsters from the consequences of their actions or irresponsibilities.
Belleville Police Chief William Clay discussed his officers holding parents accountable by ticketing them when their kids violate curfew. "I'm going to put the burden on parents if nothing else," he said.
That's where change must start.
There are obviously larger issues at work, but the more abstract we allow a problem to become the more likely we are to throw up our hands. We see value in defining the problem as concretely as possible so that the solutions become more apparent.
Real change will come one parent at a time, whether through enlightenment or the law.