Re: “Tale of Two Shootings,” Opinions, July 31.
James Varney’s column noted there had been no actual relationship between two recent shootings, although the city’s prevailing culture of violence inevitably connected them. We are all affected by the murders.
“NOLA for Life,” Mayor Landrieu’s plan to stem the tide of fatalities, identifies five steps to be taken to change the patterns of individuals’ behavior.
Step 1 is to stop the shooting. Detroit and Flint, Mich., recently surpassed New Orleans as the most murderous U.S. city. New Orleans’ murder rate is down from last year’s toll. So, there may be some progress through the CeaseFire initiative.
Step 2 is prevention. NOLA for Life’s “Flip the Script” campaign identifies prevention as a key to life support.
Young people need new personal scripts that enhance self-esteem and build their hopes for the future. This is where Family Service of Greater New Orleans and other social service agencies play a vital role in the success of the plan.
Given the neglect and abuse many children experience growing up, it is no wonder shooting another human being might seem like a way to get respect. But real respect comes from inside. That’s where mental health counseling can help.
In my many years working with young men, first as a diagnostic social worker at Youth Study Center, then in direct service as a therapist at Kingsley House and Milne’s Boys’ Home and later, as CEO of the Children’s Bureau and Family Service, I have seen how change evolves from the inside out. Self-respect emerges through mirroring with mentors, teachers, social workers, counselors, coaches and other trusted advocates.
Had Marshall Coulter truly valued his own life more, would he have risked it to trespass on private property?
Perhaps he and his parents could have benefited from parenting support and education, which could have resulted in parental guidance to understand the risks he was taking. There have been so many scenes in the aftermath of violent incidents where there is a clear indication that some parents could benefit from more information about appropriate parenting.
Maybe Marshall had no hope for his future that might be dashed by an unarmed robbery? So many of our young boys seem to be adrift, with no mooring and no anchors. We should find opportunities to reconnect these youth to meaningful programs and services before they get on the wrong path.
In keeping with the mayor’s plan, we, as citizens, must invest in prevention, not cut social programs to balance the budget. There is too much at risk and too much to lose.
CEO/President, Family Service of Greater New Orleans