As we grow up from a child to adult, we are always looking to be a part of something. We are constantly in search of whom we are and our purpose. Throughout our adolescence we play sports, participate in the band, or other school activities. As we mature the path becomes more precise. Our experiences lead us to choose the group of our best interests.
The sense of belonging begins at an early age. As a child you aim to please those who surround you, your family. You get good grades in school, are a member of the science club and do your chores. In return we are congratulated, get some ice cream and go see a movie. This seems ideal right? Unfortunately, not all children experience this as a child.
What happens if the child is not nurtured and encouraged? What if that child does not know who their father is? The family moves from house to house, school to school. It becomes hard to establish trust and feel accepted. They become just the new kid at school accepting any Joe that comes into the house with hope that they may become Dad. By the teen years the child has given up on “Dad” and move on to cliques. Still it becomes hard to belong when the adolescent has become the live in sitter, because the mother is working two jobs and spends her free time trying to find a mate.
Resentment sets in with all the possible “Dads” now and you seek an escape. Living in the low income neighborhood it’s easy to find friends because they all are in the same situation. No stability in family, no video games to keep them occupied indoors. And why would they want to stay home, it is just an open door for abuse. So they roam the streets. Then they all meet at the corner and roam together. The professionals call them “at risk kids”; the neighbors just call them hoodlums.
They all want to be a part of something and still yearn to be accepted by their parents so they start watching and learning from them. Still trying to appease their family they imitate the behavior of the adults who are barely holding their own lives together let alone raise children. School work starts falling and eventually leads to a dropout. This becomes their daily life and they have a decision to make. Trudge on with life alone, or with others.
They choose compatible company. Some infiltrate the barrooms every night, some join activist groups, gangs, and clubs. These groups are not mutually exclusive and tons of others exist.
The communities are quick to criticize and like to point fingers. So where does the blame lie, the individual, the accumulative, parents, or society?
Check out this song by Elvis Presley