Just like it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to raise a criminal. And I wonder how the Village of Columbia helped raise the eight that brutally attacked and maimed 18 year-old Carter Strange last Monday night in Five Points.
When Vicki Strange released the gruesome hospital pictures of her son last week, I couldn’t believe that other children actually had done that kind of damage to another child… another human being. What could Carter have done to deserve such?
As the story unfolded, it later became clear that Carter Strange had done absolutely nothing wrong, except be in the path of seven wayward juveniles and one oversized adult bully. And at midnight, what else are unaccompanied juvenile deliquents and oversized bullies to do other than cause trouble.
Can you please tell me why 13, 14, 15 and 16 year-olds are out in Five Points at midnight? Were their parents concerned about them like Carter Strange’s parents were? Carter’s father is such a concerned parent that he tracked his son’s cell phone use online. His mother is so in-tone with her child that she called him around 12 am when it looked like he was going to miss his curfew. And Carter, being obedient, was jogging home slightly after midnight when he ran into a gang (yes, a gang) of boys whom I bet parents didn’t call them to see where they were… or checked their cell phone records.
Instead, they were probably asleep. Or at work. Or out partying. Or up late watching TV… who knows. It doesn’t matter. What does matter is that they didn’t know where their children were and they didn’t know what their children were doing.
Dr.Jennifer Rounds-Bryant’s book, book, It Takes A Village to Raise A Criminal: 5 Ugly Facts About Institutionalized Behavior, came to mind when I saw the Strange family being interviewed on ‘Today Show’ Tuesday morning. Actually, if I had not known any better, I would have thought that story was based out of Chicago’s South Side… or South Central LA. Never would I have believed that story came from my back yard… from Columbia, SC. But it did. And it seems like we are doing just as good a job at raising criminals as other famed criminal breeding grounds.
But I learned from Dr. Rounds-Bryant’s book that parents, peer and biological influences are micro-level factors to those children’s delinquency. But what about the macro-factors? On her website, Dr. Rounds-Bryant talks about the role the five human service systems have in creating criminals: education, child welfare, mental health, criminal justice, and religion. That made me think about The City’s response to the national attention the Carter Strange case has received.
Effective immediately, children 16 and younger cannot be out unaccompanied in Five Points after 11 pm. This emergency curfew for minors definitely satisfies me for right now, but what are we, The Village, going to do about the bigger problem? What are we going to do to solve the bigger problem of high school drop outs; dysfunctional and broken families; babies having babies and children raising themselves? Poverty? Illiteracy? The breakdown of morality and religion? Unemployment? Hopelessness? Depression? Systematic welfare? And so on and so forth.
Dr. Rounds-Bryant states: The village raises a child and a criminal in much the same way. What differentiates between a person becoming a criminal, a superstar, or an average Joe is the village’s response to the person during childhood.
Is the city’s response going to turn these children to superstars, Average Joe’s, or facilitate their criminal behavior? Enough of the band-aids. How about some real healing for a change.