October 27th, 2009
04:47 PM ET

How much do we love our kids?

Program Note: Tune in tonight to hear more from Steve Perry. AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/10/27/gangrape.highschool.jpg caption="Police say a student at Richmond High School was gang raped outside during a homecoming dance."]

Steve Perry
CNN Education Contributor

Our kids are subjected to environments and images of violence on a level never seen before. They are numbed. I asked a group of girls about why listening to Chris Brown was wrong and I was not prepared to be blown away by their twisted perception of what is reasonable behavior.

If you have not been in a school lately you ought to be afraid, very afraid. The highest rates of violence are directly related to what is considered acceptable.

From the streets of Chicago – where children watched and an adult taped a child be beaten to death – to Richmond High School where children watched a child's innocence ripped from her soul, we have seen what happens when children lose respect for life.

This is the direct result of kids feeling unraised and unloved. It is also the result of kids growing up without adult structure and high expectations. Communities can become Lord of the Flies environments in which the kids make adult decisions and they decide wrong every single time.

We have got to answer the question, "How much do we love our kids?"

The answer must be enough to create smaller, loving schools with longer school days and years. These schools are structured and driven by high expectations.

We can show kids how to love themselves and others. We can prevent many forms of violence. While there is no cure for crazy, we can create loving educational communities because we have examples all over the nation.

soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. William King

    I feel like this is the worst event since the columbine shooting, you would think by now the school system be alot harder on the events that happen in public schools. The question is where was the security or public police? And to anwser the text that was posted on the show early this morning, I think alot of the evevnts that seem to happen get pinned on media when in reality it could deal with mulitple things like former depression or some experince. I feel like movies and video games are the main focus of problems when it could be somthing different, people need to realize its not the media that influnces kids activites I feel it has more to do with the enviroment or area there in.

    October 28, 2009 at 6:01 am |
  2. Mary P

    I agree with Mr. Perry. I have had the good fortune to be able to choose "smaller, caring schools" for my children and with great results. But our young people are not their parent's fault or their school's fault – they are the responsibilty and the promise of all of us. Until we decide as a country that keeping them healthy and honored by their education for the talent that each and every one of them has, and we all pitch in to fill the hours that are not able to be filled by overworked school staff members and parents struggling to make ends meet, we will continue to hear the stories of the children who find paths that we would never hope for them. Volunteer for an organization that works with kids. Be the difference.

    October 28, 2009 at 5:55 am |
  3. Mike C.

    The point was brought up about the influence of violence on TV and movies. All I have to say about that is back in the 1800's, violence was rampant and there was no such thing as television. Art and media are more a mirror of our behavior than a catalyst. Blaming such violent act on the media is a cop out for parents and other bad people.

    October 28, 2009 at 5:50 am |
  4. ilyas kadri

    I strongly believe that TV, movies and video games are influencing teenagers in bad behavior and it's promoting early sexual and drugs activities.

    October 28, 2009 at 3:09 am |
  5. Mark aka Peacemaker

    until we put the bible and the flag back into OUR school system the children of today will not have any morale values. These kids today think they are invincible no one can harm them or punich them. You keep asking how did this happen, look at the morale values in this country today. The children have no respect for each other, if they find a situation that can harm someone they will text it or take pictures of it, without any consideration of the person being harmed. WAKE UP AMERICA WE NEED THE FLAG AND BIBLE BACK IN OUR SCHOOLS, LOOK WHAT IS HAPPENING TO OUR CHILDREN....

    October 28, 2009 at 2:52 am |
  6. Thomas

    Steve you are dead on. This is a disease that has taken our schools from what once were a family to prison yards. The teaching does begin at home but the people at the schools are there to help theses young people.
    This country is going to hell fast and I am sad I have a 9 y.o daughter that i fear for everyday of my life.
    Steve I pray you never give up and my God in his greatest move bring morality back to this nation.

    October 28, 2009 at 1:53 am |
  7. Teresa, OH

    I've long ago given up on thinking children need and will be given a loving environment in which to grow.

    So, I vote we all teach RESPECT. Respect at home, spouse to spouse as our childrens' first teachers. Respect in the classroom, and ya, that means Teacher to students. (And yes, Ive spent enough time in classrooms to know that teachers can do damage too.) Respect on the playground, respect in the parking lot-parents thats you-, respect in the drive thru waiting for food or beer, respect at the post office, the doctor's office, the dentist's office, the library, the drug dealers' corner.

    Respect is SOOOO very simple. So easy. So lacking in our children and Adults.

    Respect is the purest form of love that I know.

    October 27, 2009 at 11:17 pm |
  8. Jeanette

    This responsibility should come from the home but obviously it isn't. Something needs to be done and I think a good place to start is the trash they show on TV and the music they hear in their songs. It promotes the kind of lifestyle these kids think is acceptable. How will they have any value for life if they see it and hear it all over the place. It is made to look like rape and murder is acceptable.

    I do think smaller schools like they used to have before some idiots got the idea to bus kids all over the place (to help segregation) would help. They could get better teachings and parents would be in more control over what their kids are doing and learning. The schools are also responsible for what happens in our schools, but they don't enforce anything anymore because the kids are so unruly and they are afraid of them. All the bullying that goes on is not even stopped by the schools. A lot of things are entered into it and it will really be hard to change, but we have to work on it if we want a decent country.

    October 27, 2009 at 7:27 pm |
  9. Tamie Reichert

    I was relocated to beautiful Evanston, IL (an affluent north suburb of Chicago) a few years ago with my 5 children. It's where I grew up, where diversity and culture meet.
    The crime became unbearable, our home was broken in to, our cars a few times, my teen would call me about the beatings he witnessed on school grounds and his friend's dad was shot and killed on the street in broad daylight apparently over drugs. Two of my children were mugged for money and clothing, and my 7th grader informed me a fight broke out between his school and a rival, the rivals showed up with bricks and pipes. I attempted to approach the police for help, the community to address the issues, the school for guidance. I was informed the problems were insurmountable, the situation helpless.
    Without parents unification, without the school and communities support, we will continue to read these stories to our grandchildren someday.
    I since moved from Chicago to a small rural community. I sacrificed my career, but I saved my family. And I read articles like this and wonder how bad it has to get to enforce a change...it's horrifying...

    October 27, 2009 at 7:07 pm |
  10. Tammy, Houma, LA

    I've been a teacher and counselor in private and public school settings, and in every place where I've worked, our kids felt and feel loved. Teachers, counselors, and administrators create the environments their students live in for a very large part of their lives. While I agree that teaching ethics and morals and love start with parents or guardians, for those students who aren't so fortunate to get that at home, school personnel can and do provided a sense of belonging and love to our kids. The media sources pick up on the "bad eggs". That's not the reality for most kids who go to places where they are cared for and loved and good things that standardized tests and NCLB cannot measure take place every hour of every day. Do you honestly think anyone in education does it for the paycheck? No, we do it because we know we have the potential to touch the future by what we do with our students. The majority of us are well-trained, certified, and qualified professionals who realized a long time ago there was more to work than the money that is or isn't earned. It's all about the difference we make, the change for good we can help create, and the love we give whether anyone outside of our schools care to see it or not.

    October 27, 2009 at 7:01 pm |
  11. lisa colletti

    Tim Gibson is right.

    October 27, 2009 at 6:54 pm |
  12. Tim Gibson

    Again we turn all the responsibility onto our school system and fail to address the real problem, parents, or the lack of parenting. It all begins in the home and from there it is taken into the streets.

    October 27, 2009 at 5:09 pm |