War Between Black Children and the World

12 Nov

The War Between Black Children and the World in Which They Live
by Phillip Jackson

This war that our children are fighting against each other in the schools they attend, and against the communities in which they live, started for them in their homes.

It can only be stopped in their homes.

Many Black children and students are socially and emotionally out of control and are choosing violence and aggression as a way to solve problems in the world in which they live. They swear, fight, vandalize, challenge authority and exhibit other overly-aggressive behaviors. Too many of these children have little respect for authority and no fear of consequences for their actions.
They do not fear or respect clergy, teachers, their parents or even the police nor will they listen to well-meaning adults or respond to positive guidance. In some schools in the United States, the daily classroom environment is a war zone with the possibility of crippling, and sometimes deadly, violence amongst the children themselves and the world in which they live.
In Chicago, a study by the Advancement Project entitled “Education on Lockdown: The Schoolhouse to Jailhouse Track” reports that in the public school system of more than 400,000 students, 29,700 students were suspended in the 2002-2003 school year and possibly up to 3,000 students were expelled in the 2003-2004 school year. But both of these figures pale in comparison to a reported 8,539 youths arrested in 2003. These arrests included about seventy 7-, 8- and 9-year-olds; hundreds of pre-teens; and thousands of 14- to 16-year olds.

While Black students constitute 50% of the student enrollment, they comprised 76% of the suspensions, 78% of the expulsions and 77% of those arrested, mostly young Black males. When children and students are not cooperative, self-managed and self-disciplined, they cannot effectively learn.
Teachers are being asked to be social workers, disciplinarians and police officers as well as teachers. With this expectation, there is no way that they can be successful in any of these roles, especially that of teacher! In many schools, the school day is spent on containment rather than enlightenment. It is no coincidence that the student populations with the highest suspension, expulsion and arrest rates have the lowest reading, math and writing scores, and lowest graduation rates.
School districts across the country are spending hundreds of millions of dollars on security that should be spent on education enhancements.

Calling the police, hopefully a last resort, is not an effective way to manage students who misbehave. Police officers are not trained as social workers or disciplinarians. They are trained in crowd control and in pre-incarceration tactics and operations.

The solution to the problem of violence among Black children does not lie predominantly with schools, police or jails.

This problem cannot be solved by government or social service agencies by themselves. This war that our children are fighting against each other in the schools they attend, and against the communities in which they live, started for them in their homes. It can only be stopped in their homes. While educators, society and government all have a role, it must be acknowledged that the parents, families and communities of these youths hold the key to stopping violence in our schools and communities.

Parents, families and communities must establish a new culture with new standards and new expectations that allow and encourage Black students to succeed in mainstream American society without violence and physical aggression. A national infrastructure must be created to manage the resources, programs, ideas and people who can solve this problem. Programs and good intentions cannot fix this problem. The solution needs to be comprehensive, systemic, well-conceived, well-funded and well-executed.
The best school safety solutions start in the homes and the communities of the children. The best disciplinarian for a child is the cultural framework of mutual respect and self-discipline taught to children at a young age by their parents and the community in which they live. The best mentors for children are loving, nurturing and caring parents.

Black boys and girls need to be to be in the presence of strong, positive Black men and women if they are to follow a similar path in life. If your school or community is not utilizing these kinds of solutions to eliminate violence and improve academic performance, it has become a disservice to the children and the community it is suppose to serve and part of the overall problem of violence among our youth.

Phillip Jackson is executive director of the Chicago-based Black Star Project. For information, call 773-285-9600, email or visit our

Brought to you by the email distribution of the Black Star Project.
The Black Star Project 3509 S. King Drive, Suite 2B Chicago IL 60653


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