Fayette County


Power of the Ps: Keeping our children and community safe

Sherri Jefferson is an advocate, author, and an attorney. Transforming the lives of children is her passion. Transferring knowledge is her profession.
Sherri Jefferson is local attorney.

As the summer comes upon us and the school year comes to an end, we must #ThinkSafetyFirst.
Well, what does this mean? Every year, we lose children to incidents of drowning, drug overdose, alcohol abuse, suicide, criminality, car accidents, sex trafficking, and violence. Our children include all persons ranging from infancy to 19 years of age. Yes! Persons who are nineteen are entering their freshman or sophomore terms at college. To this end, many of them will be driving home from college or enjoying summer recess.

Mental Readiness
How are we preparing our children for their summer recess? What tools of thought are we sharing or equipping our children with to survive and thrive this summer? Many of our children will have relationships with persons of the opposite sex and some may face the challenges of saying “no” to sex. Others, who say “yes” may encounter pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
Have you made the time to have a conversation with your children about healthy relationships? Too often, we spend a great deal of time promoting pregnancy prevention. When this occurs, our children experience anal and oral sex unaware of the consequences of sexually transmitted diseases.
We may not discuss the outcome of sex until our child reports that they are pregnant, by then some parents promote abortions because they feel their children are too young to be a parent. There are alternatives to abortions. An open adoption is an option, which allows the birth parents and the adopted parents to maintain open relationships for the child’s development. For many, abortions are becoming a form of birth control because this method becomes the alternative to prevention of birth.
Furthermore, we must prepare our children for their ‘summer love.’  Preparation includes discussing teenage domestic violence, date rape, drinking, alcohol, driving under the influence, or reckless driving (texting, conversing on the phone, talking to passengers or maybe having too many passengers in the vehicle). Do you monitor your children via GPS while they are on the road? Do you have a video camera in the vehicle to ensure public safety? What measures have you exercised to protect your children and the public while they are on the road?

Coping Skills
So often, we lose loved ones during the summer months. Death comes all year long. However, when people die over the summer and school is not an occupant of the mind, our children have a lot of time to worry, be anxious, depressed, and sadden by death. Parents and society tend to think that our children are “resilient.” To this end, we spend little time considering what, if any, needs to be done to help our children cope with death. Equally, we spend little time considering the impact that sicknesses, disease and divorce has upon our children. This summer, take the time to teach your children coping skills or seek assistance from professionals.

Idle Time
When a child awakes at 2 a.m. to consider engaging in an a “lick” (commission of a crime), what can a parent do to stop this thought or process from occurring? When children wake to rob a local store for telephones, how can the community respond to prevent others from doing the same thing? When three people die in a police chase from engaging in a theft of cell phones, what can the community do to respond?
Idle time gives children a platform to engage in mischievous behavior. Often, their behaviors are examples of peer pressure, depression, boredom, lack of self-esteem or self-worth, or lack of knowledge about the value of money. Idle times causes our children to engage in acts that lead to death, incarceration, sickness, or disease. Children engage in criminality and may join a gang for self-validation or love and affection. Children may participate in unprotected sex for the same reasons.
Others may agree to engage in criminality to prove oneself to another or to belong. For some, it is about getting a quick dollar. Too often, they do not understand the collateral consequences associated with engaging in criminality. Children do not process that stealing telephones and selling them on the streets yields little to no profit. Especially, when compared to their life and time spent in prison or the possibility of death because of a car chase. To this end, we must promote and advocate for better use of our children’s time. Idle time is deadly!

Are you preparing for an outdoor cookout, a family BBQ, or a pool party? Did you know that you could hire a lifeguard to provide swimming protection and safeguards for your guest? You may be unaware that party-goers are unable to swim or may be under the influence of drugs and alcohol not attained at your gathering.
Did you know that you could hire an off-duty police officer to help provide protection for your guest from party crashers? When you plan a party, children use social media to promote their gathering. This invites other people to attend the party. Those persons may not share the same values as your guest and their intentions may be different. To this end, they may come with violent tendencies and promote criminality that leads to violence, shootings, and death.

The Power of the Ps enables us to #ThinkSafetyFirst.  By incorporating the roles of the Parents, Pastors, Principals, Police, Prosecutors, Prison Personnel, Physicians, Psychiatrists, and Pharmaceutical Professionals, Public Officials, Politicians, Public Servants, and the Press, we can protect our children. Together, we can keep our children and community safe. Parents, you are the first teacher in the life of your child. Your “P” matters!