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Two Communities Weep For Their Lost Children

June 16, 2005 — Two mothers have lost their sons. Two fathers will have nothing but grief on Father's Day. These parents have lost their sons to gun violence.
A community weeps and waits for the fallout.
Another community in New York City weeps and waits for the lifeless bodies of Tristan A. Charlier, 24, and Leon H. Roberts, 25, to come home. They were found fatally wounded early Wednesday morning on Veterans Drive near Frenchtown, less than a day after they’d arrived on St. Thomas for a wedding. ( See St. Thomas Source story "Police Identify Slain New Yorkers, Continue Investigation"
This community is also weeping for the other parents who lost their children long ago – some to violence, some to drugs, no one can say for sure. But they are lost. They are the children who did the killing.
Children so inured to violence that they would gun down complete strangers – over what? How does this happen?
We have too many lost children – lost to anger, alcohol, drugs and guns, lethal combinations that end with agony beyond imagination.
As a community we must take dramatic action to stop this nightmarish cycle. But how?
We start with early childhood education and compassion.
Too many of our children are being raised by people who have no idea how to parent. Some have no interest in learning. We can't stop people from having children, and we can't force them to be good parents, but we can offer help to those who are open to it, and we can advocate on behalf of those children as early and as often as possible.
We have to stop being afraid to intervene where there is obvious child abuse or neglect going on. When you see a child being abused, say something, or report it. Reach out to that child. Show kindness. People who have experienced love are unlikely to kill a person in cold blood, which seems to have happened here.
And we have to be pro-active in providing improved early child care that focuses on the overall well-being – physical, emotional, intellectual and social – of every child in this territory.
Monsters are not born, they are created – with repeated violence, emotional abuse and neglect.
We need to find these children – and let's not pretend they aren't easy to identify – and provide a safety net for them, starting in some cases at birth.
We need to take the old African adage about it taking a village to raise a child and make it really mean something.
We are failing our children on a daily basis, and now two more are dead.

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