By Marnita Coleman
Special to AFRO

From the beginning of time, there was violence in our society, but not to the degree that we see today. In the bible days, when Cain attacked Abel, one could argue that he was clearly out of order, but we can trace the behavior that caused the incident. Here’s the backdrop, Cain and his brother presented an offering to God from their respective areas of work. Cain the farmer, gave produce, and Abel, a herdsman, brought choice meats. God rejected Cain and his offering but accepted Abels. Cain became angry and depressed. Rejection set in and Cain invited Abel out in the field with him. We don’t have all the details of what exactly happened, but we all know that Cain slew Abel. 

We are living in perilous times where acts of violence don’t make sense. Who could have imagined a day where someone would enter an elementary school and kill 20 innocent children ages six and seven, and six adults that cared for them. The unwritten rule is that children are a protected class. If you have a gripe, it’s not supposed to be taken out on kids! 

(1938): This AFRO archive shows youngsters entering the John Hurst School No. 120 after summer break.

We have discovered that the rules have changed. There is an alarming number of children experiencing violence, coercion, and intimidation daily. These children have been randomly picked out because of their vulnerability. When my daughter was seven, a 13-year-old kid, four times her size, punched her in the nose. He was the neighborhood bully. When she came home crying with blood dripping down her face, it scared me because I didn’t expect this type of danger against my children. I warned them of everyday things like not talking to strangers, looking both ways before crossing the street, and always staying together. That day, my heart sank, and fear mounted because someone hurt my child, and I felt powerless at the thought of this happening again.

Parents have a lot to be concerned about these days. Safe places are no longer as safe as previous times. There have been horrific mass shootings in schools, churches, clubs, malls, concerts, and parks where families gather to have fun and hang out with friends in their communities. 

The CS Mott Children’s Hospital at the University of Michigan conducted a national poll to find out what today’s parents’ top concerns were for their children. The poll revealed that parents of White and Hispanic children were concerned about bullying and cyberbullying, while parents of Black children indicated their number one concern was racial inequality. These are genuine issues in our society. Children are taking their lives because of continual harassment and put downs from bullies. Most of these bullying incidents happen in “safe” environments where parents are not present, like school or recreation, leaving kids to fend for themselves. 

Parents talk to your children about bullying and racial inequality. If there are significant changes in your child’s behavior, like if they are more quiet than usual or seem to be sad, don’t pass it off, inquire to know if there are underlying issues needing attention. Ask if they have experienced bullying, cyberbullying, or what they believe to be racial inequality. Discuss proper actions to take just in case these offenses show up. Identify persons that will be a haven where they may talk freely and feel safe like a teacher, relative, youth pastor or friend. And, of course, assure your kids that you have their back.  

For more information on these sensitive topics, check out stopbullying.gov and racism.com.

Marnita Coleman is an author and host of The Marnita Show, a parenting show heard daily across the globe.  For more parenting, log onto TheMarnitaShow.com or listen on Spotify.com.

The opinions on this page are those of the writers and not necessarily those of the AFRO.
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