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Kids Take The Lessons Learned at Home to The Street

Op/Ed By Gloria Winston Al-Sarag



This is not the first time I have brought attention to this topic. However, the time to revisit it has been driven by the fact that some young parents still seem to be completely unaware that their children learn everything they learn, in terms of behavior, from them. Children learn at home FIRST, and what they do, and learn in the street, comes second. They take the lessons they’ve learned at home into the streets, and into their schools. And I’ll use the term HOME lightly, because a HOME should contain many of the positive things children need to develop into emotionally stable and healthy people; people with respect for themselves, their families, and others.

The Rochester City School District’s School Board President, Van Henri White, recently posted a video on Facebook, which included the following comments:

“This problem that we have had at the Transit Center is not unique to Rochester. What I’m saying is, we are not going to be able to bus our way out of this problem. Because, as this video (and others prove), you can’t ride a bus anywhere in this country, and not see this type of thing happen. We have to get serious about solutions that can impact what’s happening (or not happening) in these children’s homes.”

My response to his comments was as follows (and I was contacted by folks who asked me if I could expand on my remarks):

“Been saying that for DECADES…. As a former parent involvement coordinator for Head Start, I have visited THOUSANDS of homes in this community. Over a 15-year period…….in the HOMES is where the problems begin and end…….In the homes is where you will find the abuse, sexual and physical, some of the kids are subjected to…in the HOMES is where you will find NO books, magazines or newspapers……in the HOMES is where spiritual or religious foundations are MIA…….drugs, and many born to crack-addicted parents, contribute to this madness also…in SOME cases, spending a lifetime on WELFARE with parents who have NO dreams, visions, or plans to get off it may factor in also….they bring the lack of LOVE, and home training, into the street…..It ALL begins in the HOMES, or the HOUSES that should be HOMES!”

As I’ve stated initially, and continued to say over the course of my writing career, PARENTS, guardians, or others responsible for raising children, are the FIRST teachers. Parents have been failing their children by letting them loose on society, knowing full well they have not been engaged in their children’s behavior the way they should be. They have not been teaching their children proper values. They have not been feeding them healthy meals. They have not been overseeing any homework. Many have been allowing TV, social media, or video games to raise their children. Parents have NOT been spending quality time with their children. They have not even been paying attention to what their children are wearing to school these days. Many children have simply been raising themselves, and figuring out right from wrong by watching TV, or listening to their friends down the street.

Children learn the values they carry into society from their HOMES. And there have been drugs and alcohol on the table in some homes.  There have also been situations of abuse and violence that have gone undetected in some of the homes in which our problem children live. Some of these children have been living with more pain than love, and, if given the opportunity, have been taking out their frustrations and anger whenever the chance presents itself.

Many of these children have not been engaged in positive activities before, or after, school. Many have grown up never learning the true meaning of cleanliness, or how to make a bed, or the significance of getting along with others. These children have been exemplifying learned behavior, which has jeopardized themselves, and the safety of others.

They have seen their parents or guardians act, and react, the way they do. This is learned behavior. It’s behavior which has been learned at HOME, first. Many like to blame the school district, poverty, or society as whole, for their children’s behavior. However, love for self, respect, and responsibility, are the key factors which should automatically kick in when a child is faced with the decision to behave, or misbehave. Usually, stable children are empowered by a sense of community, or have been influenced by adults who’ve taught them to love and respect. That is what’s been missing, in too many cases, in this community.

In losing our sense of community, and embracing a culture which does not include the love that used to exist; it has rubbed off negatively on far too many young people. Children should love and respect adults, and authority figures, more than they do these days. When fighting, cursing, and back-talking to adults has become acceptable, and they are practices we settle for; we have doomed ourselves, and our children.

I’ve tried hard to imagine what’s gone wrong, what’s changed in a community which now seems to have produced young people with absolutely no respect for themselves, or others.

It’s easy to say you certainly can’t respect anyone else until you respect yourself.

But, respect and love are lessons which begin in the home. I can’t say that enough. The community, and the village, should reinforce positive examples in the HOME.

If the lessons are not being taught, and children are raising themselves, then we will continue to get what we get. If you don’t know better; then, you can’t do better.

You are more than correct on this one, Van Henri White. The lessons learned at home are the ones we have been forced to deal with in the street, be they negative or positive. We seem to scatter resources in many places, but we have spent little time or money trying to fix the REAL issue, which has been the problem with parenting, or lack thereof, in our children’s lives. I will continue to insist there are no bad kids, but there is still a LOT of bad parenting going on.