Moms & Dads

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Boys and violence: What do we do now?

Michael Brewer lies in excruciating pain at Jackson Memorial with second- and third-degree burns over 80 percent of his body. He is 15.

Five other boys have been arrested for dousing him with rubbing alcohol and setting him on fire. Four are 15, one is a 13-year-old sibling.

And now we condemn – the boys, the parents and the culture that bred such heinous behavior. Where were the parents? Why are 15-year-olds in seventh grade? The bully – how did he get that way? There are so many troubling questions about this horrible situation, it’s almost paralyzing.

A lot has been written about the “boy crisis” in America, as well as the inevitable “myth of the boy crisis.” But I don’t know if this incident should be reduced to an academic discussion.

My only real question is: Where are the safety nets? Where are the after-school programs for kids with a variety of interests? Sure, there are sports – but only for those kids who are superior athletes. What about the vast majority of kids? What’s out there for them? I’m really curious …if you know, please comment.

The Broward schools have an aggressive anti-bullying agenda . Do these programs work? Are there other intervention programs that actually succeed?

And what’s out there for parents who may be struggling under the responsibility, who maybe don’t know how to deal with boys in crisis, how to teach right from wrong. What’s out there for them?

At a time when budgets are being cut across the board, when advocacy groups are struggling, this should be a wake-up call that as a community, we have a grave responsibility to address some of these questions.

What’s your suggestion?

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About the authors
Gretchen Day-Bryant has a son in high school and a daughter in middle school. She’s lived to tell about the struggles of juggling little kids and work.
Joy Oglesby has a preschooler...
Cindy Kent Fort Lauderdale mother of three. Her kids span in ages from teenager to 20s.
Rafael Olmeda and his wife welcomed their first son in Feb. 2009, and he's helping raise two teenage stepdaughters.
Lois Solomonlives with her husband and three daughters.
Georgia East is the parent of a five-year-old girl, who came into the world weighing 1 pound, 13 ounces.
Brittany Wallman is the mother of Creed, 15, and Lily, 7, and is married to a journalist, Bob Norman. She covers Broward County government, which is filled with almost as much drama as the Norman household. Almost.
Chris Tiedje is the Social Media Coordinator and the father of a 7-year-old girl, and two boys ages 4 and 3.
Kyara Lomer Camarena has a 2-year-old son, Copelan, and a brand new baby.

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