Letter to the editor: D.C. faith leaders must help youth

Recently, various faith leaders held a meeting in Washington to discuss our city’s spike in youth crime (“D.C. faith leaders say a spiritual revival needed to cure city’s rampant violence,” web, Sept. 20).

The solutions to this problem, however, go far beyond any lack of spiritual enlightenment. 

I’ve been working with juvenile criminals for the past 20 years and have tried many times to engage these leaders in implementing solutions. I’ve gotten little response.

The only thing that seems to motivate these individuals are TV crews, and when those pack up and leave, so do our “faith leaders.”

In my opinion, they are part of the problem. The young people I work with frequently tell me they don’t trust pastors, imams and the like because they aren’t around when help is needed.

Our city’s clergy could publicly denounce the failed social policies that broke up the family unit (the promotion of single-parent households and the marginalization of the importance of spiritual guidance for children, among others), but they don’t.

My granddad was a preacher, and the church he built and donated to the community served as a job training center for plumbers, electricians, brick masons and mechanics. It was also a day care that taught parenting skills to young mothers and fathers. As far as I know, very few churches in D.C. now offer such services.

Our faith leaders have stood by while youth crime spiraled out of control. I’ve learned that if you don’t offer crime-involved young people legitimate alternatives to earn money, they won’t change — and that’s why they have no respect for religious leaders.

Until D.C. clergy members demonstrate the courage to engage directly with our youth, their meeting earlier this month was a complete waste of time.



Source: WT