I propose a simple, but powerful, way for Baltimoreans to support the city’s youth and schools. It won’t cost a lot of money, or take a lot of time. It doesn’t require the overhaul of a bureaucracy. But it would help kids get safely to the safest place for them in the city: their school.
What I am suggesting is that we make a Safe Passage Pledge to Baltimore’s school children. There are constant reminders in the news that city neighborhoods are too dangerous for children to pass through on their way to and from school. They are so unsafe that some children resort to carrying weapons for protection – and often are suspended or arrested for their efforts at self-defense. Others stay home out of fear and a desire to survive.
But we can change that.
What if the city’s adults went to their porches, stoops, front doors and windows to support children on their way to school every morning and to their homes every afternoon? Think how much safer and more nurtured our children and youth would be if there were just a few adults on each block who smiled at them, said good morning, told them to hurry up, and wished them a good day.
Mayor Dixon, may I be so bold as to suggest that this initiative has your name all over it? And at the top of my list for candidates to enlist are the many city churches and their congregations who want to live their faith and build their communities. I would also like to ask local radio and TV stations to call out an eight a.m. reminder to get a cup of coffee and head out to the street and a three o’clock nudge to welcome the kids home.
I think the presence of community members alone would reduce violence, truancy and children’s fears, but the effort would be improved by a Safe Passage Hotline. With it, we can give neighbors a way to get help when busses pass children by without picking them up, or when children are still on the street after school starts.
Baltimoreans, help me improve on this idea with your comments and suggestions – let’s find a way to address the most basic need our kids have – to be safe.