Sunday, October 21, 2007

PBS 39's Tempo to Air "Kids and Gangs" Special Tonight

PBS 39' Tempo, which usually does puff pieces, is trying to get a little gritty. According to a press release, it will air a "kids and gangs" special tonight at 7 PM.

Like many fourteen-year-old football players, Qu'eed Batts of Easton had hopes and dreams of a promising future. Those dreams came crashing to a halt when Batts pulled the trigger and murdered 16- year-old Clarence "C.J." Edwards in a gang- related shooting. Now 16, Batts is facing life imprisonment for an incident designed to promote him to a higher rank in his gang.

Join Team Tempo on Monday, October 22 at 7:30 p.m. as host Amy Burkett talks to Shaniqua Batts, Qu'eed's mother, in her first television interview. "His childhood is gone. This I know. I'm just praying that it's not the rest of his life," Batts said.

A survey by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics shows 34 percent of students in city schools reported the presence of gangs. Kids and Gangs-it's a growing problem right here in our region, and local police say most of the shootings and murders that happen here are gang related. In this special report, PBS 39's production team helps educate parents and caregivers to look for the warning signs in our children.

"These kids are just like your own kid. They just have to be shown a different way," said Terrence Miller, a member of the Easton Anti-Gang Task Force.

Also, Team Tempo explores how a $2.5 million dollar federal grant is being used to combat this problem along the 222 Corridor which stretches from the Lehigh Valley to Reading. The partners in the 222 Corridor Initiative have developed a plan, which is expected to produce a substantial reduction in gang crime, gang violence, and gang membership and to provide positive alternatives for former gang members returning to society.


Anonymous said...

Unless we finally change our course of action in the so called "war on drugs", gangs will proliferate and society, schools and especially prisons will be inundated with this war's young victims. Prohibition reaps disaster for our society and our familial structure.

Anonymous said...

There's no way Amy Burkett went to Mrs. Batt's house. My money says she did it in the station with her white pancake face, and chiseled hair perfect under the lights.
I can see a very special episode of Sesame Street on the horizon. "Bloods and Crips are people too! Oscar the grouch is probably a lietenant, and orders Big Bird to make his bones!

Tony K said...

I just watched the tape of the Oprah show with Dr. Bill Cosby from a few days ago. Before getting to carried away with comments you may want to see if you can get a copy. He made more sense in the 1 hour than anyone I've read. My only disappointment was he was refering to black families and his message was for all.

Retired ASD teacher said...

The appeal of gangs to young, urban kids has much to do with what they see with their immature minds.

When you're twelve, life is all about the 'bling' you display, not how you got it.

Kids sucked into the gang culture have NO understanding of the value of productive labor followed by earned wages. In many cases, they go home to a mom who doesn't work either. So what is this concept called work for what you want?

Over the years, they have been told 'The Man' is holding them down because they are not white. Thug behavior is the only way to provide the things you need. You MUST get back at 'The Man.'

The gang situation in Allentown is very serious and the city's undermanned police department is under too much pressure to do much about it.

I applaud PBS39s Tempo for attempting to portray this cancer.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Retired ASD Teacher,

Thanks for the educator's perspective. I see the logic and appeal.

I really feel that somehow, we failed the young man involved in that gangland slaying. I understand he knowingly and intentionally took a life. But what chance did that young man ever have? I understand that a few teachers tried to reach out to him, but he himslef was being bounced from home to home and was himself abused. His mother was just 13 when he was born.

I'm not trrying to exonerate him or excuse what he did. But I wonder what we can do, as a society, to make that kind of crime less likely. I'll be interested in Tempo's report, and hope to learn something.

Dottie said...

I think one of the reasons kids form gangs is because they encounter racism at school. On top of this they might be neglected at home, so they turn to gangs for a sense of belonging and identity. And the media (tv, music, movies) influences them at a young age before they have established their own system of values. Pro-active parenting, community volunteering, after school programs, sports, can all help these kids.

Retired ASD teacher said...

Good to hear from Dottie (a former co-worker)! We both shook our head over cafeteria duty.

Part of the interest young gang wannabes have in membership, at least in ASD, is they have found thug/bully behavior DOES provide what they want. Right now, that behavior operates freely and openly.

ASD's class sizes and overcrowded buildings create good cover for the unseen. Opportunities abound for shaking a smaller kid down for his/her lunch money, for stealing a cherished possession.

Even if caught, the offense is hidden, the penalty too small, etc.

As much as I don't want to see even more placed upon public schools as responsible for raising kids because their own family is not capable or willing, I must say, the time to stop the success of bullying and criminal behavior is when kids try it for the first time.

All kids touch the top of a hot stove at some point, but they only do it once. It REALLY HURTS and did NOT have a successful outcome!

retired ASD teacher said...

OK, Bernie

Just finished watching the Tempo special. Very well done. Probably will win a few awards.

Some observations . . .

the kind of money being dedicated to the problem is not enough. Ten thousand here, even a hundred thousand there, just doesn't do it.

the kids interviewed through the passenger side window all had that amused look on their face. Here they are receiving attention over the topic of gangs. Gee, that whole gang thing brings me attention and fame.

the twelve year old kid in some local program shown with a Bluetooth hanging on his ear. Nuf said.

the program's closing segment explaining if you want to find out more about this problem, visit this website, yada, yada, yada. Come on, how many parents of gang members were watching such a program?

For me, life is all about risk/reward. Let them take the gang risk, but make sure the reward is horrible. It really should be about penalty for abhorant behavior.

Touch that stove and get hurt. That's the only lasting message.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Retired ASD teacher,

I just watched the program myself. I really have a tough time with host Amy Burkett, who was trying hard not to smile so much. And I don't think there was any depth.

Having said that, I was overwhelmed by the story of Qu'eed Batts, as told by his mother. Very, very sad.

Blue Coyote said...

Sorry for this slam, Bernie.

What's even more sad and surprising to me, is the fact that your more worried about Mr. Batts.

I, however, didn't read in your blog about "the hopes and dreams of a promising future" for the victim, Clarence Edwards.

Victim's and victim family's rights are usually an afterthought. Gangs don't care about the consequences of their actions. But, yet every day, the Edwards family must live on without CJ.

More resources are needed for victims and their families. Please rethink your priorities Bernie. Again, sorry for the slam. I usually agree, but not on this one. Or maybe, I have a different perspective.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Blue Coyote,

It's funny. Mrs. Batts spoke about that. She expressed her sorrow to the Edwards family for what has happened, and indicated that they themselves have been very understanding to her.

I understand that a murder was committed and mean no disrespect to the victim or his family. But I think he himself was a gang member, too. That's what's so sad about all this. Babies killing babies.

Blue Coyote said...

I wrote the following comment in LOLV's blog back in July of 2007. I still stand by it.

"I read with interest your sociological viewpoint on society's role of consumerism and it's interrelationship with violence in our neighborhoods. I believe that your analysis and summation is faulted, although well intended.

I would subscribe to the Epicureanism and Hedonism philosophical views, in that, Mr. Batts made a voluntary choice to associate with a gang. That choice provided comradeship that may have been lacking in a familial relationship. This association was for his imagined betterment.

Mr. Batts made a voluntary choice to "put in some work" and murder another human being. Mr. Batts made a voluntary choice to pull the trigger of a handgun. Mr. Batts expected to receive a gain from this action, in that, a promotion and benefits of such within the gang culture.

Others, whether they may be black, white, purple with green polkadots, socio-economically endowed or depraved make these same decisions whether to abide by the law or not. Society cannot and will not make decisions for individuals. Mr. Batts realized this as well on the stand, when he exclaimed, "I am mad at myself".

There is an African saying that proclaims, "It takes a village to raise a child". However, once a child is "raised", that child must make independent decisions for the betterment of themselves, as well as for society as a whole. You made yours, and it appears that your doing well. I applaud you!

Mr. Batts made his and the consequences are a life term within the walls of a state correctional institute. It is a shame, I agree, that the loss of life comes at a dear price."

Bernie O'Hare said...

I understand that Batts made a terrible choice. I'm not entirely convinced it was all that voluntary, but a jury has already answered that question. I guess it just bothers me to see young men with so much potential throw it all away, and I fault the gang culture more than I do them. It's hard to listen to a mothjer without feeling some pity.

Blue Coyote said...

I agree and disagree.

I fault them more than the gang culture. Often in Judge McFadden's courtroom in Northampton County, you will hear a defendant say, "I guess I was mixed up in the wrong crowd." Inevitably, the judge will counter, "Did you ever stop and think, that your the wrong crowd?"

Defendants point to the gang as if it was some abstract group, when in fact it is made up of hedonistic individuals, including themselves. They make the choice to perpetuate the gang culture.

Although I agree with you, in that, within the gang culture, some prey upon the weaknesses of others. And I also agree, that I pity those that are left behind in this particular tragedy.

Dottie said...

I agree with Blue Coyote that victims and victim's family's rights are usually an afterthought. When I watched the program last night I felt sad for Mrs. Batts, and I am glad she spoke of the victim's family, but her son is still alive. That makes a huge difference.