Summer 2012 in Brooklyn has borne witness to a rise in violent incidents amongst children on playgrounds, and the problem might be attributed to the stark absence of grown-ups and adult supervision, reported a Daily News article.
On playgrounds around Brownsville, the neighborhood bordering the southeast section of Bed-Stuy, there’s no short of guns, blood and kids on the streets. But many of the children say it’s mostly kids raising kids while their parents are “out with friends,” at work or busy looking for work.
“If the parents are trying to get their own lives together, it is children keeping an eye on their children,” said James Brodick, project director of the Brownsville Community Justice Center. “If a parent has a job, they usually get paid hourly. So if they miss a day, they don’t get paid.”
But even when parents are around to supervise their kids, it does not always provide a shield from random acts of violence as evinced by last month’s shooting of 3-year-old Isaiah Gonzales on the playground of Roosevelt Houses in Bed-Stuy. His mother was right there watching as her young son was hit in the leg by a stray bullet.
Still, one high school principal who works in Brownsville/East New York said at his school, the issue of absent parents and kids-raising-kids is a big problem —one that makes a big impact on the child’s quality of life.
“There’s a small group of students who routinely arrive late every morning to school or are not able to come in for necessary after-school tutoring, because they are responsible for watching their younger brother or sister,” he said. “And there are some days when they don’t even come to school at all, because their younger sibling might be sick. They end up stuck at home all day because the parents can’t afford to take off from work.”
But Caryn Wilkerson, 54, a lifelong Bed-Stuy resident says she doesn’t blame the parents so much as she blames factors like urban blight and what she believes is a widespread culture of violence.
“Since when was it so unusual to send a child out to play by themselves?” she posed while waiting for the B38 bus on Dekalb and Bedford avenues. “In New York City, kids learn independence a lot earlier, because those same kids are the ones that have to get on the bus and train to go to school by themselves.
“I think the problem is the violence; these kids live in a culture where violence has become normal. And poor working parents don’t have a lot of alternatives these days… especially as childcare continues to be cut.”
What do you think? Do you feel that there would be a reduction in violence on playgrounds with more parental supervision? Or do you feel the presence of adults would make little-to-no difference in violence levels outside?