Homeless children may become tomorrow’s criminals
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer
SEVEN POINTS–The next generation of criminals may be abused and terrorized children, seen in homeless shelters similar to the Genesis Center in Kaufman, Kiwanis members heard.
These children are so filled with fear and anger that if something is not done to change their situation and worldview, “our children and grandchildren will become their victims,” Dr. Sam Carothers, Genesis Center board member said.
The center can accommodate 36 women and children. This week it is housing 38.
“Somewhere in the background, with very few exceptions, drugs are involved,” Carothers told those who attended the luncheon meeting at McClain’s Wednesday.
He began by telling stories about two women housed there and two preachers from different nearby towns who had been hesitant about visiting and supporting the center.
In both cases, each preacher did not expect to know anyone there, and the first person they met was someone they knew from their churches.
“The homeless aren’t people from somewhere else, they’re not somebody else’s problem, they’re our neighbors, and even people from our own church,” he said.
Those allowed to stay at the Genesis Center agree to follow the rules and participate in the full program.
Genesis offers a two-prong approach to making a difference.
The first is to instill a sense of right and wrong, through daily Bible studies and discussions that offer an alternate way of living.
The second is to educate them. Getting a GED is the starting point for building self-esteem, but obtaining a professional certification, so they can earn a living and provide for themselves, is the goal, he said.
The center used to limit the amount of time a person could stay, but now, as long as “she is progressing toward self-sufficiency, we’ll work with her,” he said.
Observations he has made include:
• The number of women filling prisons is growing four times faster than that of men.
• Many come from white-collar families.
• Their parents allowed them to drop out of school at an early age.
• By the time they are in their early 20s, they’ve been to jail and mothered several children. These children are Child Protective Service cases, many in foster care.
“Just bringing these women into a safe environment, doesn’t help. We have to get them to the point where they can take care of themselves or they’ll go right back to the same environment they were in before,” he stressed.
What is the solution?
Carothers made these suggestions:
• Build your own strong family that acknowledges God as the Heavenly Father and final moral authority.
• Promote strong, caring, patient parenting that draws boundaries and guards those boundaries.
• Encourage parents to take leadership over their children and hold self-discipline, responsibility and mutual respect in high regard.
• Encourage every child you know to stay in school, and do their best, no matter what.
“The real problem is the fabric of the family is falling apart,” he said.
Individuals can support the work of the Genesis Center in several ways, by donating and buying items from its second-hand store, making monetary donations to the center, and most importantly, becoming active as a mentor.
Mentors spend several hours each week, helping young women work through their pasts by listening, showing compassion and encouraging them toward a better future better future.
The Genesis Center is located on State Highway 34 one mile north of Kaufman.