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By Martin Lamarque

About this blog: I have lived in Belle Haven since 1997, and work as an interpreter in the emergency department of a county hospital. My main interest is to help improve society by way of giving families the support and information they need to ra...  (More)

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Waking up to the sound of gunfire

Uploaded: Jan 1, 2014
The other day I was awakened by the sound of gunshots, at five-twenty in the morning.
Half asleep, I think I nonetheless guessed right. Five shots, north-east from my bed, one street over, towards Newbridge.
I expected the sounds of sirens to soon make their way into the neighborhood. But after a few minutes, the silence continued, and I was relieved that this time, apparently nobody had gotten shot.
After the last spate of shootings in November, they picked up 3 guys who are suspected of going around the neighborhood shooting at homes and cars. It turned out that the oldest is only 21, the other 2, juveniles.
A couple of days later, I found out that there had been three incidents of firearm attacks in Belle Haven that week, not counting the one that woke me up. Whether it was the work of this trio or not, one of the shootings, on November 24, was into a car occupied by a mother and her 2 children; ages 4 and 5.
I lay there, unable to go back to sleep, wondering not so much about the shooters, as I did about their families.
Where do these kids live? Who are the parents? Who makes sure they are home, and in bed at night?
Do they wonder whether at 5 in the morning, if they are not in their bedrooms, they might be out there, shooting at people, cars, and houses?
How did these kids develop such disregard for others' lives, and their own? Did they, as the scientific research suggests, grow up subject to abuse and neglect? Does anyone from the 'system' pay a visit to the families, to see what can be done to support them in improving their resources and parenting skills?
These are the questions us, and our authorities should be asking if we are going to start making a dent in the crime rates of neighborhoods like Belle Haven. We have tried incarceration, at a very high cost, and it hasn't resulted in any tangible reduction in crime, as evidenced by the ever growing "need" to build more and bigger jails.
Notifying landlords that there might be gang members among their tenants, as our police intends to do, is just another patch in the long list of ineffective patches we've been applying to a problem that requires long term solutions. This measure may, or may not, rid the neighborhood of a few gang members, along with their families, but their places in the gangs will not be vacant too long. For as we speak, the next generation of gang members is already being raised.
And by the way, I believe Chief Jonsen is trying his best to help us with our crime problems; but his training and resources are for law enforcement. He can't, and should not be expected to combat the root causes of our ills. That is a project for us residents to tackle in association with our authorities.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Jay, a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights,
on Jan 2, 2014 at 8:43 am

It all starts with parenting, and it has to start with good parenting at a young age. I grew up in a strict household. My parents knew everything that was going on in my life until I hit my late teens. Even then, I respected my parents enough to stay out of trouble. These kids in East Palo Alto and East Menlo are growing up in households that are not providing proper and strict parenting. These kids are not growing up with morals, manner, discipline, respect to others, ethics, or any of the things that were driven into me when I was growing up. These kids think school is lame, fighting is cool, gang banging is cool, and they are facing an uphill battle unfortunately. The way I see it, if these people cannot raise their kids to be a positive force in society, then they should not be having kids t all. Also, it is time for the police to mount up a large gang task force and instill a curfew in these neighborhoods. They should also set up random checkpoints for drugs and alcohol. The city should provide free counseling to parents that are having problems with controlling their kids, especially if the situation involves gangs, drugs, and guns. Then support these parents and protect them when they decide to handle the situation.

Posted by Martin Lamarque, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven,
on Jan 2, 2014 at 9:26 pm

Thanks for your comment.

I believe that all parents set out to do the best they can figure out in raising their kids. Unfortunately we live in a society that doesn't offer much in the way of supporting the development of parenting skills. When kids are raised under the chronic stressful conditions of poverty, they will more likely end up not getting the attention and motivation that prepares an individual to navigate society.

There are proven ways to fight this, that don't involve building more jails. But our society, and our leaders are not sophisticated enough to even consider a different approach, yet.

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