Parents Have Responsibility In Education
Article written by Gregory Marshall for the Natchez Democrat, October 10 2013
The Natchez-Adams School District is in a serious crisis. I recently read 2 Natchez Democrat articles that really got my attention. The first one stated that four out of 5 schools got an F rating. The second one stated the Mississippi Department of Education might take over Morgantown Middle School. It was their third year of having an F rating, and the high school was only a year from being where Morgantown is now.
This definitely should be alarming news to every concerned parent involved. As a motivational speaker and youth mentor, I’ve had the opportunity to speak at some of the schools here. I got a chance to listen to the teachers, students and the parents. The parents blamed the teachers, the teachers blamed the parents and the students blamed everyone.
I have several family members that are teachers, and the information I got from them was very helpful in making me understand just what’s really happening here. It’s a reality that education has become a formality now. The teachers are fed up with the parents that take sides with the students. The parents have empowered the students, and that’s devastating for any teacher. I can remember attending Broomfield Elementary school as a child. But what I remember most is the fear of disobeying my teacher. I can still feel the sting of that leather strap on the palm of my outstretched hand. Then I had to take that dreaded ride home on the bus to get my second whooping from my Mama. That’s because the teacher had all the credibility back then. The parents of today are so quick to think that their child is an angel. I’ve sat at many youth sports games here. I’ve heard numerous parents blame the coaches for their child’s inability to perform up to standards.
We’re breeding a culture of dysfunctional youths. We’re allowing the television, internet, and violent video games to raise our children. If you just purchased the newly released video game “Grand Theft Auto 5” for your child that’s failing in school, you’ve just added to the problem. That money could’ve gone towards a tutor. I’ve talked to parents that are genuinely scared of their children.
Your parents made you and your education a priority. You should do the same for your children. You have to be passionate about children to be a teacher. But once that passion leaves, the teacher stops teaching, and the kids stop learning. It’s not the teacher’s job to teach your child morals and principles. That education starts at home. Raise a child in the ways of the church. Nurture them and help them build character. Prepare them for life after high school. It’s a known fact that one in three students is a bully at school. That bully is definitely headed for trouble. The streets will eventually find him or her all the wrong role models.
We’re living in a forever-changing world. It’s time to change the way things have been done. It’s not going to be easy, but anything worthwhile isn’t easy. Natchez is a very small town. We should be able to come together. It’s going to take a concerted effort to do it. Where are all the spiritual, political and business leaders? It’s time to get innovative and creative. What are we doing to entice our children to come back to Natchez once they finish college? The problem is not going to fix itself.
I’ve written several articles to this paper concerning our troubled youth. Not one single person has ever come to me and said, “let’s do something about it.” What does that really say about us? I can only speak about what I’ve seen and experienced. I’m self-educated and prison raised. I spent most of my young adult life incarcerated. My very first arrest was for armed robbery and kidnapping. I was just seventeen, but tried as an adult. I got my G.E.D. in youth authority. So that’s what makes me an expert on what I write about. I’m a living example of what you don’t want your child to go through. But I turned my life around. I was raised in the ways of the church. You are in control of your child’s destiny. If you really want to help your child, please don’t blame the teacher.
Newspaper articles I've Written
Let's Unite Our Community Together
Article written by Gregory Marshall for the Natchez Democrat, March 21 2013
I promised myself that I wouldn't write another article for a while but I just couldn't help myself this time. This time it's serious. I prayed for God to give me the words and the wisdom to convey this message to you.
It all started two Sundays ago. My Pastor preached a sermon that really moved me. He read from Ephesians 6:1-20. The very first verse is what really captured my attention, "Children, obey your parents in the Lord for this is right". He also spoke of raising our children in the ways of the church and making a stand for what you believe in, even if it means standing alone. That's when the Holy Spirit began to move me and I knew that I had no choice but to write this letter.
I moved back to Natchez a little over 3 years ago. Since then I've paid close attention to my community and the spiritual leaders. I found it hard to believe that my sweet little town had turned into a place of high crime and violence. I wrote about the things that I saw and I told you that it was going to get worse if things didn't change. Well, I've come to the conclusion that we are failing our children.
How can the parents teach the children how to act when they're bad examples themselves. All of this didn't happen overnight. It's a trickle-down effect that has gotten out of control. It's my opinion that it starts with the church. I use to think that the church was the answer to all our problems. But the church really is the problem. I see a separation, isolation and competition between the churches that deeply saddens me. All you have to do is stand around right after church lets out. It won't take you long to overhear a conversation where somebody is talking about somebody else. I'm amazed at just how much gossip can be generated between the adults. Too much focus is placed on the status of the next church. Who's doing this, who's doing that! I've heard stories of folks even fist fighting in church.
I've found out that bad news travels much faster than good news around here. Too many people are caught up in holding a title or a position that makes them feel important. The churches are getting bigger but the congregations are getting smaller. I've watched how the people leave their home churches to flock to the the next one just because of the popularity it presents. The next time you're in church just take a moment and look around you. Pay attention to the average age of your members. Think about what the next 10 years will look like.
The children have been forgotten about. We have to keep in mind that they're watching everything that we do. How can we expect them to act accordingly when all they see is negativity. The Shepherds are responsible for their flocks. The focus should be on building God's kingdom. Divide and conquer is an old trick that Satan has used forever. We are all born to die. The goal isn't to live on this earth forever but to create something that will. What about your legacy?
It's time for a change in the way we do things. Change is difficult but so very necessary. If God is the most important person in your life it should show. Now there's someone probably saying to themselves, "Who does he think he is?" Well, I'm just a true God-fearing man that's passionate about Natchez. I'm a man that's already died 3 times on the operating table as a result of 5 gunshots. I've already seen that brilliant white light that near death folks talk about. The prayers of the righteous saved my life. I know for a fact that God chooses the most unlikely people to use as an example. So I know a little something about Humility, Grace and Mercy. God gave me a powerful living testimony to share with you.
Yes, I lost the use of my right hand but He blessed me with the gift of one finger on my left hand that I'm using to write you the very words you're reading right now. I wrote a book that many of you have already read. I give away more than I sell because I want to be more like Jesus and spread the Gospel. I share my testimony with both Blacks and Whites. I'm hoping that somebody will see what I see. God has already performed a miracle on me, there just has to be a reason why He spared my life.
I realize that Natchez has a dark past of racial injustice. I've met some Black and White racists. I don't have time for either. But times have evolved, and we can't hold the future accountable for what happened in the past. You're doing your children a disservice if you're teaching them to hate the other race.
Natchez has the potential to be a model city for the rest of the nation. Your religion is not going to get you to Heaven. It's the love that we have for each other and God that will. This letter is not intended to belittle anybody. This is just a passionate plea to get some attention to some real talk. I'm just doing what I'm suppose to do. I have a dream of all the churches uniting. A dream of our youth seeing how we can get along. In closing I’d just like to say, let your dreams be bigger than your fears and your actions louder than your words. If that doesn’t happen, then God help us all!
Natchez Is The Place I Want To Call Home!
Article written for the Natchez Democrat By Gregory Marshall, Oct 19 2012
I’ve been writing this letter in my head for more than a year now. My recent visit to Los Angeles is what inspired me to finally write it on paper. I left Natchez at the tender age of 11. I grew up in south central L.A., commonly referred to as “The Concrete Jungle.” I did pretty good for a while but eventually became a product of my environment. I made it to the 11th grade before my criminal career began.
I spent most of my childhood and young adult life incarcerated with some of the most ruthless criminals you could ever imagine. But thoughts of Natchez were never far from my mind. Many nights I lay awake in my jail cell thinking about the fun-filled days of living in the country. I thought about how my grandmother used to depend on me to get the fireplace started every morning. How my Uncle Ernest taught me how to drive a tractor. I thought about how my four siblings and I would get dressed and attend church every Sunday morning.
I learned how to hunt, fish and garden on our 55 acres of land that I now call paradise. My grandmother, mother and uncle raised us right. They didn’t spare the rod! They instilled responsibility, morals, principles and work ethics in us. Not having a father in our life turned me into a man-child at an early age. We were raised as God-fearing folks.
Fast forward to Nov. 16, 1996. I thought I was invincible. I came back to Natchez for all the wrong reasons. I came back to hustle. Well, karma finally caught up with me. On Nov. 16, 1996, I got caught up in a drug deal gone bad. I was shot five times at point blank range — twice in the head and three times in the shoulder. My partner was shot once in the forehead and died. God spared my life that night but my right arm was paralyzed as a result of the shooting.
Eventually I was able to pull myself back together and realize that God had given me another chance to live. He blessed me with the gift to write my autobiography. Many of you have read my living testimony, and I’m honored to have shared it with you. Two weeks ago I took an Amtrak train to L.A. I’d never ridden on a train before, and I wanted to see the countryside from another viewpoint. I felt like a child as I went from state to state. I watched the landscapes change from lush greens to brown, dry deserts. I was already missing Natchez, and I hadn’t even made it to Arizona. The very first thing I noticed when I finally arrived in L.A. was the smog. The noise pollution was next. Traffic was a nightmare. I felt like I’d just entered the Twilight Zone. I was in a city of millions compared to 20,000 here. Los Angeles is a place where you never even know your neighbor’s name. People don’t even make eye contact; no warm smiles. It’s a place where real thugs roam the streets. Police and ambulance sirens are a way of life.
I had days where I really started to miss Natchez. I walked around like I had a secret treasure map, and I was the only one that knew about it. That secret was Natchez. Natchez is a place that just makes you feel good. It’s a place where the air is so good a deep breath hurts your lungs. It’s a place where everybody smiles, teeth or no teeth. This is a place where people still say “ma’am” and “sir.” It’s a place where that good ole religion still exists, where the pastor knows your first name. This is a place where there’s no excuse for homelessness. A place where nearly everybody’s related. Natchez is steeped in history and tradition, a place where total strangers help each other and speak to you like they’ve known you all your life. Natchez is a place where wannabe thugs have no clue what a real thug is.
Natchez has opened its arms and embraced me. I’m so grateful for that. I’ve made friends that I could’ve never imagined. I’m finally learning how to enjoy life. Yes you can take a boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy. I write about Natchez with passion because that’s just the way I feel. Maybe it’s just my deep appreciation for life. But I know I’m not the only one that feels like this. It doesn’t matter whether you’re black or white, Republican or Democrat, Catholic or Baptist. We all serve the same God, and we can all agree to disagree. I know that God chooses the most unlikely people to show just how powerful he is. A very close friend of mine once told me that Natchez is the closest thing to being in Mayberry.
So in closing, I’d just like to take this opportunity to thank all of you that have supported me in my quest to become a writer. But more importantly, I’d just like to say, “Thank you Natchez!”
Father's Day Speech Excerpts
June 20 2012
The following are excerpts from my speech at a Father’s Day Breakfast:
The words that you’re about to hear from my mouth are true. Everything I tell you will be something that I personally experienced. I want to start by telling you that by the time I finish telling you my story, you will believe that there is a God. I can promise you that. My message isn’t just for the kids. It’s for everybody in this room right now. It’s going take all of us to make a change, so we might as well share all the same information.
I was so angry that I stopped believing in God. But I knew the moment I had to make a decision to stop hustling and show my son the RIGHT way; I made a decision to be a better man than my father was; I made a decision to write my book with one finger.
So now let me talk about the present time. It’s plain and simple, it takes a man to raise a man. No matter how old you get, you will always crave the love that only a father can give. Some of you were fortunate enough to have a good father or stepfather in your lives. But even that’s rare in this current day. There’s a lost generation of angry children out there. I was so angry that I wouldn’t even refer to my father by his title. I use to call him my sperm donor. When Father’s day came around I could only think about my mother. Have you ever noticed how 99% of the sports stars always say “I love you Mom” after they’ve won a big event? I can’t even remember one giving a shout out to pops. But the deadbeat dads always seem to find a way to claim you once you’ve made it big.
Just take a look at me. Look at all I’ve been through. I’m not supposed to be standing here before you right now. God spared my life for a reason, and he sent me back to Natchez so that I can make a difference in your lives. There is no other explanation as to how I made it this far on my own. I knew that I had to forgive my father before my book was published. Now, that was very hard to do. But I believed in what I read in my Bible and what my pastor preached. So I had no choice. Yes, I’m blessed and I’m supposed to pass on my blessings.
Now, I told you at the very beginning of this speech that you’d believe there is a God by the time I finished. Well just let me share this with you and you can make up your own mind on this one. On June 6th I had a birthday. I turned 50. My father called me for the very first time on that day to wish me a Happy Birthday. It was the greatest birthday gift in the entire world. So do you believe in God now? Thank you all and may God bless each and everyone here!
All Are Needed To Bridge The Racial Gap
Article written by Gregory Marshall for the Natchez Democrat, March 5 2012
I want to take this moment and share a true story with you. In November of 1996 I made the front page of The Natchez Democrat for all the wrong reasons. I got caught up in a drug deal gone bad. I was shot five times at point blank range, twice in the head and three times in the shoulder. My partner in crime was shot once in the forehead; he didn’t survive. So there I was, in the middle of the night dying on a lonely dark road in the parking lot of Pine Ridge Grocery. Moments later, the very next thing I saw was Deputy Sheriff Julius Cotton shining a flashlight into the vehicle. The smoke hadn’t even cleared out yet. He’s the white man that saved my life on that fateful night.
I went back to California right after I got out of the hospital but was indicted and extradited back here to face the charges. Julius Cotton heard I was in jail and came to visit me. We hugged as I thanked him for saving my life. He sat and talked to me for a while. He lectured me about changing my life around. He quoted scriptures from the Bible to support what he was saying. At that very moment we had no skin color, we were just men happy to see each other. In my book he’s known as my “Blue Eyed Angel.”
I moved back to Natchez approximately two years ago to finish writing my book. District Attorney Ronnie Harper was the first person with whom I had contact. I had no clue that he was the District Attorney in charge of my case. To my surprise he was very helpful and supportive of what I was doing. Then I met Sheriff Chuck Mayfield and officer Thomas Borum. I was amazed at how easily I made friends with all these white guys from law enforcement. But I was only surprised because I was in Natchez, where this kind of stuff wasn’t supposed to happen.
I’ve lived in Los Angeles for most of my life where diversity is a way of life. My best friend back there is white. After I’d been here awhile I started to realize that most of the people I’d met shared my vision of making a difference here in Natchez. That common dream we shared became the foundation for the true friendship that we share today. I took notice that many of my African American folks didn’t really approve of how I was interacting with law enforcement. Some of the guys that I’d hustled with were still hustlers. But I had this dream of bridging the gap between the races, and I didn’t let that deter me.
Last year I was asked to speak at Alcorn here in Natchez at a teen summit. I asked Thomas Borum to come speak with me. He was the only white person there. It didn’t affect him at all. He did a great job. Then he invited me to come speak with him at ACCS. I was the only black person there. It didn’t bother me any. Last Sunday I was the featured speaker at my church for Black History Month. I didn’t have a clue what I’d speak about. But the Holy Spirit told me to invite Chuck Mayfield, Thomas Borum, and their wives Mrs. Mayfield and Rose Borum. They were my friends, and I just knew they’d show up. Well they were already there when I got there. Needless to say, the service was excellent. I told a story about dreamers and dream chasers. I told a story of how Thomas Borum and I flew above the clouds in his private airplane. I talked about a moment where we were as close to God as we’d ever get.
I made it clear that at that very moment we weren’t black or white, we were just two friends in a plane. I invited them to my church because I dreamed of a brighter future for Natchez. I wanted my church family to see that these people were no different than themselves. We were making history at my little cozy church called St. Paul A.M.E. on Pinemount Road. The energy was so positive, and every single person there really enjoyed themselves. Martin Luther King had a dream for which he died. That’s so very important to share with our youth as well as our adults. So I’ll continue dreaming and doing all that I can to bridge that gap between the races. I’m not afraid to lead by example. But it’s going to take all of us to pull this sweet little town that I call paradise together. I now know that anything is possible through our Christ and Savior Lord. I just want to take this moment and thank all those who came out to hear me speak about my dream. You were all a part of history Sunday. Just think about it, if God can all this for me, imagine what he can do for you!
Dogs Really Can Be Man's Best Friend
Article written by Gregory Marshall for the Natchez Democrat, January 16 2012
My relationship with my best friend started back in the summer of 2009. I'll have to admit that it was a rocky beginning. I'd just moved back home to finish writing my first book. I was greeted at the front door by a long-haired black and white Jack Russell terrier named Max. I didn't see anything special about him and brushed him aside. I'd just come from the mean streets of Los Angeles, so I had a few rough edges of my own with which to deal. My mother informed me that Max was just a few months old. She and my 12-year-old nephew Kasim had adopted Max from the animal shelter.
Max had previously been adopted by another family but had somehow managed to get his left front leg broken in a closing door. That family returned Max to the animal shelter, and that's when my mother spotted him. My dear sweet mother told me the story of how they knew it was love at first sight with Max. Ok, I'll admit it. I didn't even like the dog at first and saw absolutely no room for growth in our relationship. But that didn't last. It wasn't long before Max would start showing me a few things to impress me. A week after I met him, I watched him round up a few cows and move them back to the pasture. He had my attention from that point on.
Our property is located at the very end of the road, so there are 35 acres of beautiful land to enjoy. I started taking walks every morning. It wasn't long before Max was by my side 24/7. As time passed, we became inseparable. I took him fishing and hunting. We cut firewood and worked in the garden. I took him everywhere I went. Max had become a star in his own right.
He has a way of looking at you in your eyes. He's loved everywhere he goes. Everybody knows Max. Even though I'd turned my life around, I was still in the process of my spiritual transition. Being alone on the property with no distractions to interfere left me alone with nothing but God's creations and my thoughts. It took me a minute to realize that I was being humbled in the best way. I trusted Max like I've never trusted man before. He didn't know I was an African-American, male or an ex-thug. All he knew is that I loved him as much as he loved me.
I found myself talking to Max as if he were a person. A few times he looked like he was going to talk back. I didn't feel bad when I heard my mother and nephew doing the same thing. It wasn't too long after that when I realized I was a true animal lover.
But the best was still yet to come. I thought Max and I really hit the big time when Julie Cooper e-mailed me one day, asking me if I'd participate in a fun article in the 2012 spring edition of Natchez the Magazine about big guys and little dogs. They came out to the property and captured photos of Max in his natural habitat, chasing the horses. Then we went to the Natchez Democrat for a studio shoot. Max handled the flash of the camera like a true rock star as he and I posed for the picture. It was a proud moment for me and my best friend.
I felt a little bad for coming home and taking over the family dog. The competition for Max's attention was getting too stiff, so I used that as an excuse to adopt the heeler mixed girl puppy from a guy up the road. I knew my mother wouldn't be too thrilled, so my nephew and I named her Baby, after my mother's nickname (Sugar Baby). Then I fell in love with another puppy. He's a heeler rat-terrier mix. Once again I had to get creative and named him Charlie after my mother's dad. A very close friend of mine noticed my love for animals and introduced me to Kathy Fitch. She's a board member here at the Natchez-Adams County Humane Society. She asked me to join the board as a volunteer, and I accepted.
So it's safe to say you haven't heard the last of me. Now I'm not sure where the term "man's best friend" came from, but I truly adore it. Maybe you ladies can come up with your own little phrase like, "a gal's best pal" or "smooches pooches". I'm just not ready to compromise on this one yet. If you see me in the streets, please don't hesitate to give me new ideas on naming the next dog I just happen to fall in love with.
It's Time For A Town Hall Meeting
Article written by Gregory Marshall for the Natchez Democrat, September 16 2011
On July 29, I wrote a Top of the Morning titled “Think about the future before you vote.” I ended that article with this quote, “You can ignore the elephant in the room or prepare to build bigger jails.” I had no clue that I’d be writing a follow-up to that article so soon.
Well, that elephant just got bigger in the last couple of weeks. I’m referring to the shooting at the Natchez Mall. That shooting was the talk of the town the next day. It became an even bigger story when the victim died. Just out of curiosity I went online to see the comments on The Natchez Democrat’s story. What I read was appalling. There were people actually joking about the whole incident. The loss of life is never a laughing matter, no matter who the victim is. That young man was somebody’s son, uncle, nephew or father.
Something happened inside me, and I immediately picked up the phone and called Sheriff Chuck Mayfield. He called me back within an hour and we set a date to meet. I didn’t have a clue what I’d say to him, or what the outcome would be. I just let the Holy Spirit move me and relied on my faith. He and I have met on a few occasions, but I knew this time would be different. The meeting went better than I could’ve ever imagined. He listened to everything I had to say with great sincerity. We discussed several ideas that we could implement to help the youth here. We both agreed that creating a dialogue between the citizens was the most important first step.
That thought led up the idea of maybe having a town hall meeting. The next thing we spoke about was mentoring. That’s when I knew that I’d made the right call to come meet with him. Listen people, pay close attention to what’s happening right before your eyes. That mall shooting was a very brazen crime. In the two years since moving back here from Los Angeles, I’ve seen an escalation of crime here that should alarm everyone. Another example of the problem is the armed robbery of the Grand Soleil Hotel in July. Those robbers wore ski masks. What about the recent bank robberies?
Yes times are hard. Desperate men will do desperate things in desperate times. This beautiful little town is headed for darker days. I came from a crime-ridden city. I used to be the guy that would follow your expensive car home, kick in your door, tie you up with a telephone cord, pistol-whip you and take all your valuables. So that makes me an expert on crime. The economy is in bad shape, that’s no secret. But Natchez is too small of a town not to be able to come together. We just have to work with what we have. We have to be innovative and creative. The churches have to stop competing and come together for a greater cause. We need to pool all our thoughts and ideas. We have to tear down that invisible wall and erase that anger and animosity that was caused by our forefathers.
This not about a black or white thing. This is a people problem. No one will be immune from this crisis. It’s only a matter of time before otherwise good children emulate what they see. The last time I wrote an article for the newspaper I received plenty of praises, hugs and promises of participation. I have yet to see one person act on a promise. Natchez needs action, not lip service. The elections are over now. It’s time to see what the newly elected officials will do. I don’t have the answers for what we’re dealing with. I’m just one voice. But get two or more people talking and just watch what happens. Let’s not be afraid to address the tough and sensitive issues. I’d love to see a town hall meeting happen. I’d love to see who shows up. Political, spiritual and community leaders should tear the door down. But more importantly, let’s see who doesn’t show up. That elephant isn’t going to get any smaller.
Think About The Future When You Vote
Article written for the Natchez Democrat by Gregory Marshall
I moved back to Natchez from Los Angeles almost two years ago to the day. I was totally unprepared for what I’ve seen since then.This sweet little town has taken a serious turn for the worse.
One of the very first things that I noticed was the increase in the crime rate and the lack of support for the children. There was one moment that really stood out to me. One late summer night I passed by a nightclub on St. Catherine Street. The parking lot was jam packed with young teenagers. I started paying close attention to the current mindset of the youth. I was searching for answers as to how things had spiraled so out of control from the days I spent here as a child.
I immediately started blaming the parents. Being raised without a father in my life made some of the excuses I’d heard acceptable. Then I saw the bigger picture. That’s when I started blaming the spiritual leaders and the local politicians. I can remember when the church used to be a place of security and refuge. A place where children were taught the importance of morals and principles. Somewhere along the way the children were forgotten. The churches are getting bigger while the congregations are getting smaller.
The church and its spiritual leaders are the foundation and the thread that are supposed to keep our communities together. Recently I visited the youth center. I talked to a few guys there and heard stories of how things used to be. It saddened me to see what had become of what was once a thriving safe haven for our youth. Natchez is too small of a town for us not to be able to come together as one for a common interest, the children.
Time and time again I’ve heard adults complain about how bad the kids are today. Well what can you expect when there’s nothing to offer them?Unemployment is a major problem. We need recreation programs. Just off the top of my head, how hard would it be for all concerned to come together with a solution to replace the water park with a swimming pool? I grew up in the deadly gang-infested streets of South Central Los Angeles. I had all the wrong role models. I spent most of my young adult life in prison. I was once a ruthless criminal. It almost cost me my life. I was shot five times at point blank range. Twice in the head and three times in the shoulder. My best friend died sitting next to me with a bullet to his head. That tragic event took place in 1996 right here in Natchez.
My life was spared so that I could tell my story and hope to make a difference. So I’m speaking purely from experience when I tell you these kids here aren’t that bad at all. They just need someone to care about them. I’ve done all I can to make a difference here. I’ve shared my testimony with anyone that will listen. I’ve spoken at the teen summit at Alcorn School of Nursing and ACCS. We need to invest in our children.
We need to start holding our spiritual and political leaders accountable. Being an elected official should be about the passion to make a difference in your community, not just a paycheck. Don’t just vote for a candidate because of name recognition. Think back to the last elections. Think about the promises that were made. Think about who kept their promise. If that official didn’t live up to his or her word then you might want to reconsider voting for that person again.
Sometimes change is good. Bettering your community should be their main objective. Make sure that the children are at the top of their to-do list. Keep in mind that today’s problem child could be tomorrow’s criminal. The choices are yours. You can keep ignoring the elephant in the room or prepare to build bigger jails.