Wednesday, March 4, 2009

NWSF Exclusive: It Takes a Village to Raise a Criminal

It takes a village to raise a child.

Yeah, we've all heard that repeated ad nauseum since Hillary Clinton dropped the line and attributed it to an old African proverb over a decade ago.

Maybe it's just me but when non African descended folks start quotin' African proverbs they start to have as much validity as those old school Calgon Detergent , "ancient Chinese secret" commercials.

Just ain't all that convincing when folks turn ancient wisdom into worn out cliches and marketing schemes.

So, in 2009 Durham writer and resident clinical psychologist Dr. Jennifer "Dr. Jenn" Rounds-Bryant has flipped the script and released the controversial book, " It Takes a Village to Raise a Criminal."

The book deals with the issue of why some of our children are failing, academically and turning to criminal behavior.

Although, most people would assume that Dr. Jenn, would be on the "Durham is full of gang bangers" bandwagon tip in order to push a few books, she says that only one paragraph deals with gangsta-ism as it is just a small piece of a bigger problem.

Round -Bryant states that we miss an opportunity to reach youth who are attracted to the street lifestyle when we focus on gang perspectives rather than adolescent youth behavior.

She says that this negative behavior doesn't start when middle school kids start rushing home to watch "106 and Park" on BET but it starts at kindergarten age when they should be watching Sesame Street.

According to the book, many of our children are simply not prepared to enter into the school system.

In other words, when your five year old cusses Ms. Johnson out for calling him Raymond Johnson Jr. instead of his "real name," "Lil Ray Ray," that could signal a problem that you might want to get a handle on.

Writers such as Dr. Jawanza Kunjufu have alleged in the past that the failure of black youth in the school system is not an accident but part of a....dare I say it...Conspiracy. Round-Bryant seems to concur.

According to her book, some children are deliberately left behind in order to preserve the status quo and to develop a kind of Capitalist classroom caste system or permanent underclass.

She points to grade retention as one of the major culprits, as the system is set up to kill spirit and motivation before a child reaches the 4th grade. This as a type of ethnic classroom cleansing to get rid of the undesirables who could lower test scores and in effect reduce money from the Feds.

In the book, she also points a finger at the welfare system saying that " Children whose mothers receive assistance with basic needs are stigmatized, have few resources, and often experience the associated low-stimulation environment that is correlated with difficulty learning, school failure, and criminal behavior."

Dr. Jenn further makes a point of saying that the "criminal justice system is a safety net for untreated mental illness," a disease that is rarely talked about in the African American community as many are quick to write those who commit crimes off as simply naughty by nature.

Her book also says that jails are really finishing schools for criminals which give away certificates of street cred in lieu of graduation diplomas.

Lastly, Round-Bryant takes aim at America's faith institutions by saying that they have played a role in the criminalization of children by not addressing issues such as domestic violence.

It Takes a Village to Raise a Criminal," sadly points out the fact that we, as members of the proverbial village ,are caught up in a vicious cycle. It all goes back to the simple economic principle of supply and demand.

We supply the criminals and they supply the jails.

Dr. Jennifer Rounds Bryant will give a public lecture on her book March 12th at 6PM at the Stanford L. Warren Library 1201 Fayetteville St in Durham NC.

For more information, visit her site

Paul Scott writes for No Warning Shots