Mayor Martin J. Walsh made clear to local parents last Thursday night that Boston, state, federal and Suffolk County officials are addressing the recent spike in violent crimes in our neighborhood, both with programs aimed at deterring local youths from being swept up in the violent life of gangs like the MS-13, and added police presence on our streets.
The violence of a gang like MS-13, where local youths are given a choice of joining or facing death, must be eradicated from our neighborhood. This is the message that was delivered last Thursday night at East Boston High School.
However, local officials can only do so much in this fight without the public’s help.
A key component to steer local youths away from a life in a gang is community programs. We are very fortunate that we have these programs in place. Local organizations like the Salesian Club, the YMCA , Zumix, the District 7 Police Department and an expanded summer jobs youth program are offering positive alternatives to local youths that seem to have too much free time on their hands.
These resources must be in addition to an active and vigilant parental and neighborhood watch. Parents are, as they have always been, the first ones to know when their child is starting to hang out with groups that can lead to trouble. Walsh called upon the parents to keep tabs on their children, to know where they are and with whom they are hanging. We cannot stress this parental duty enough.
Walsh also called upon residents to take ownership of their neighborhood. It is critical to be on alert to make sure that a criminal element does not gain a foothold. Again, we can not stress this civic duty enough.
Walsh, Suffolk County Sheriff Steven Tompkins, Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley, Boston Police Commissioner William Evans and US attorney Carmen Ortiz have put in place a variety of programs and outreach centers that can make fighting gangs like MS-13 very possible for ordinary citizens.
These officials need your help.
Make no mistake about that, the fact that we are in a fight for safe neighborhoods to live and to raise our children. Achieving this type of neighborhood comes with the responsibility for involvement.
Hillary Clinton wrote a book entitled ‘It Takes A Village to Raise a Child.’ East Boston is the village, but together do we have the determination and steadfastness to see this battle through to victory?