The readers’ forum

Break ‘code of silence’ that protects criminals

 

In August 2013, just days before the new school year began, 12-year-old Tequila Forshee was killed when a cascade of bullets crashed through her grandmother’s home. Tequila was sitting on the floor having her hair styled in anticipation of returning to school. She did nothing to deserve such a fate. Sadly, there have been many other children and adolescents that have perished as a result of senseless violence. Many were innocent victims that were not intended targets of perpetrators, only collateral damage in the pursuit of those marked for execution. Regardless of the intent, when we lose a child to violence we grieve what was and what could have been.

All too often, these heinous events are witnessed by family, friends and other members of the community. Bearing witness to such carnage can result in the development of psychological trauma, which can significantly impact the well-being of those exposed. Youth are particularly vulnerable to the deleterious psychological, emotional and behavioral outcomes of violence, especially through repeated exposure. Residents of Liberty City, Miami Gardens, Opa-locka, Homestead and Overtown have suffered more than their share of heartbreak over violent losses. These incidents often go unreported to law enforcement.

Will we ever be able to eradicate the scourge of violence from our society? Probably not, but by speaking out, organizing resources and taking action, we can curb the generational cycle of violence that has deep roots within our community. This outcome can only be accomplished if we recognize and accept that violence prevention is everyone’s business.

We must end the “code of silence” that exists in communities that are beset by criminal activity. Silence only serves to protect those perpetrating said incidents and ensures that others will be victimized in the future. Understandably, being fearful for one’s safety for reporting individuals that have committed such acts is a legitimate concern. However, there are anonymous mechanisms in place to contact law enforcement that should minimize such concerns. Of course, there is no guarantee of one’s safety should one have the courage to speak up. The only guarantee we have is that if we don’t report those responsible for senseless violence, we will continue to hold funerals for our youth.

As members of the community, we have a moral obligation and responsibility to see that our youth reach adulthood physically and psychologically intact, so they may lead healthy, peaceful and successful lives. This can best be accomplished by exposing our youth to a variety of school and community-based programs, curricula, services and activities that build protective skills and prevent violence.

We must have a proactive, highly trained and appropriately staffed law enforcement community. We also need to enlist the support of the faith-based community and adult mentors to guide our youth in a positive direction. Lastly, the availability and affordability of quality mental health services for our at-risk youth is paramount. Only by working together, can we expand the safety net surrounding our youth and bring about positive and enduring change.

Frank J. Zenere, school psychologist/crisis team member, Miami-Dade County Public Schools

Read more Letters to the Editor stories from the Miami Herald

  • The readers’ forum

    Budget proposal would put children at risk

    Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez’s proposal to eliminate police officers in crucial departments that specialize in child protection is irresponsible and illogical. Some of the units that would be abolished or reduced include:

  • LeBron’s return to Cleveland

    The prodigal son has returned. After bolting the Cleveland Cavaliers four years ago for the bright lights of Miami, Ohio native LeBron James has returned home to Cleveland.

  • Disarm Hamas

    Hamas must be disarmed for the sake of both Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Hamas is recognized by the European Union as a terrorist organization. It is a threat to Israel and has fired thousands of rockets into civilian areas.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category