The Buck Stops Where?

This made front page news…

Toronto Star article, Saturday March 2, 2013

Star Investigation: Black and aboriginal youths over-represented in Ontario jails

  • The proportion of jail admissions is four times higher.  For other boys of other ethnicity there is no such representation
  • “Federally, corrections data by race has for many years provided a look at the result of decades of political indifference and systemic racism in many aspects of Canadian society”
  • The data show similar over-representation in US and Canada, yet US has received far more public and political attention
  • “Young black men face racism, poverty, lack of opportunity, social isolation, and violence in their neighbourhoods, family challenges and unemployment.”
  • “Once men are known to police,  systemic issues stack the deck against already disadvantaged groups, says academics and a library of past research, including the 1995 Report of the Commission on Systemic Racism in the Ontario Criminal Justice System”
  • “At-risk communities receive more police attention, Police detain, leaving release decisions to the courts.  Justices of the peace in Ontario are demanding sureties more often these days.  Making bail is harder when you have no home, are poor, or have no one to be a surety.”

Having read this article, it certainly seems a sad state of affairs when we consider our young men and their futures.  Of course, there may be ways to interpret this article (and what it may mean), but it’s impossible not to recognize that there is a problem.

As I was thinking about what I was reading, the thought came quite clearly to me that dealing with this “systemic” problem at the “courts” stage is way too far down the line.  I’m not saying that things do not need to change.  What I am saying is “The buck stops where?”  The solution to the problem with young men (whatever ethnicity) needs to be address at the home level, with men, mentors and fathers.   By the time a youth is thrown in jail, let’s all agree, that’s a difficult time to affect change in his thinking.  A handcuff makes it challenging to spread your wings.

Our Men’s group recognizes that it’s difficult to find men, but it’s more expedient to make men.  We need to impact boys with positive and spiritual values.  We need to let them move to manhood and maturity on purpose and not by accident.  I remember thinking at times, “I have a wife, kids and mortgage…when did I become a man?”

Our boys need rites of passages.  Young men need ceremonies.  They need some peers, and definitely older men to come around them and speak declarative words of life and purpose and meaning into them.  You must know by now that all men are “on call.”

You should also know that because you are not a father does not mean that you are absolved of responsibility to impact our young men.  If fathers fail, we have a God given and social responsibility to mentor and care and love.  We must fill the gap.  Fathers, we just need to strive to be that “Genesis Man.”

So, let the courts, judges and activists get on a mission to buck the system.   Let us as men, and mentors, and fathers let the buck stop much closer…

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