With the recent murder of an honor student caught live on a cellphone, the country is up in arms on what to do with our displaced youth. I am a bit upset about the response this is getting because countless number of youth have been killed in our inner cities without even a mention. I guess the reason for the shock is due to the fact that many of us go about our everyday lives knowing that the streets are tough but if we don't have to see it, than we don't have to deal with it. Until.... it's right in our faces bold as day witnessing the cold blooded murder of a child with a promising future. So now we are here and every idea is being brought to the table to curtail more events like this. So what do we do?
Mentorship is at the top of the list, but from whom; Million Dollar Athletes, Rappers, Actors, all of whom, most of the displaced youth are striving to be, but less than 1% will ever achieve that goal. If mentorship is going to get serious play, what type of delivery should it receive? I would hate to see any attempt at dealing with such a delicate issue confronted prematurely and lose its; effectiveness. Chicago is flirting with the idea of using 10,000 people from the community for the approx 10,000 displaced youths; will it work? Who knows. But Im just sick and tired of living in a reactive society where something has to happen first before we act.
Should people be paid to provide mentorship? Ohh this is a slippery slope if I ever saw one. The idea of paying for mentorship may seem a bit selfish, because after all you are trying to give back to the community and it shouldn't cost you a thing. I am for and against paying for mentorship. I feel that if you don't pay people for mentorship the quality of support will be dismal. Because after all you are relying on the good hearts of individuals to achieve a goal. If payment was implemented than any person may feel compelled to provide the service at any cost and you may get a slew of bug-a-booes trying to mentor young adolescents with only money in mind.
I am not one of those guys who complains about how things are not working but never offers any alternatives. Those people sicken me; so in an attempt to separate myself from the pack here is my suggestion:
First Parents, Guardians, Schools, or Correction facilities need to identify those kids who are at the highest risk of making Jail a career. Mentorship is great for kids who are doing well to stay on track, but for mentorship to really work it needs to start at ground zero; with the kids who are living the lives of criminals, future gang bangers and wannabes.
After these kids have been identified they need to be placed on a system that measures how high risk they are. For instance, kids that have a history of violence and criminal activity would go to the top of that list and kids with lesser infractions will subsequently fall in merit of order along the list. With regards to each kid that is separated into these groups they are again separated in order from worst case on down. It is also very possible that some kids who have committed the most criminal activities can be the most salvageable and the groups of wannabes who are lower on the list can in the future reek more havoc. These variables will have to be looked at first when determining who or what type of behavior is considered to be the most at risk.
This is the time when I think a Mentorship program should be implemented. But not just any type of mentorship program. Im talking about mentors getting paid for results instead of time. For instance a mentor would receive a list from all the cases in his or her city and pick which kid or kids they will choose to mentor. The mentor will than be given 18 months to change the kid around on a path from which the kid was on and to make a noticeable positive contribution to society. It could be going back to school and getting good grades, finding a job to get off the streets, or working on community projects. Whatever it may be the kid has to change his or her life around. Payment will work in two ways; First, based on the severity of the case the payment will be much higher than the less severe cases. Second that payment would only be paid out to mentors every 6 months based on their performance and the results they were able to achieve with the kid.
This is a touchy topic but I really think with a program like that you will get some quality mentors that will come from all walks of life. From Doctors too Military professionals who want to change the life of a kid. Sure they will get paid, but collectively we cannot afford to keep looking the other way while our youth prey on each other.