The riots in Baltimore are still being processed by viewers who watched as gangster thugs and criminals, along with some very misguided young people, took to the streets in anger over the questionable death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray from a spinal and voice box injury while in Baltimore police custody.
One of the inadvertent heroes of the emotional night was discovered in the captured viral video of Toya Graham, a single mother with six children, who by all accounts and from a diverse range of people is now considered a ”Mom of the Year” on social media because she took a stand and wouldn’t let her son become a statistic like Mr. Gray.
If you haven’t seen the video. Ms. Graham caught her eldest son throwing rocks at police in Baltimore and brought some old school parenting down on him, on national television:
In the article, “Succeeding While Black – 5 Ways to Avoid Altercations with the Police,” Matthew R. Drayton shares his own personal experiences with law enforcement as an African-American man and some of the key tips he often shares with the at-risk youth he mentors. Reflecting on recent societal issues related to racial profiling and police brutality, he hopes to provide young people with positive guidance for turning doing things ‘while black’ into a positive reference.
He writes: “It is not my intent to downplay police brutality incidents or to be insensitive to anyone who has suffered or died at the hands of the police. My purpose is to help African Americans understand that engaging an officer properly can de-escalate the situation, and possibly avoid a deadly altercation. I am a middle-aged, African American male who regrettably has had too many encounters with the police during my lifetime. I have never been arrested or beaten by a police officer, nor have I ever been disrespectful or mouthed off to one. …My experiences with the police were not all bad; in fact there were more positive experiences with them than negative ones. I realize some of my circumstances and encounters with the police were of a different nature than being pulled over for a routine traffic stop, but the two situations I mentioned above were intense and could have easily become confrontational. I have been stopped and pulled over by the police numerous times over the years, and I can honestly say, I have never been mistreated by a police officer. The following tips have worked for me when I have had encounters with police officers in the past. Hopefully they can help you too.”
Drayton’s bullet points for all parents include:
- Obey the law: If you are breaking the law in any way; it’s only a matter of time before you have to deal with the police. Turn on your flashers, drive slowly and pull over to a well lit busy area if you are pulled over. Cooperate if you are being questioned or arrested to avoid any physical confrontation.
- Be polite and show respect: Greeting and treating a police officer with respect immediately de-escalates the situation. Regardless of how you feel about being pulled over or questioned, the police are authorized to do so. Mouthing off and becoming aggressive towards the police will make the situation worse.
- Obey police officer orders: When a policeman asks you to do something reasonable, do it. Remember, these men and women are trying to do a job, and sometimes need to gather facts to do their job. Disobeying the police officer’s orders will again only make the situation worse.
- Make lifestyle changes: Most of the things that happen to us are a result of our decisions. Alcohol, outdated license plates, and erratic driving are a few contributors to police stops. If you are hanging out late at night with known offenders, or in places where there is a high probability of a crime, there will likely be a heavy police presence there.
- Educate your children: Teach your children at an early age about police brutality, and to be respectful when dealing with the police, and all adults for that matter. Explain current events to them in an unbiased way, and make them aware of the dangers they face if they break the law, and what can happen to them at the hands of some police officers.
Also weighing in is the nationally recognized family and child development expert, author and educator Dr. Gail Gross, who says that “if every parent took responsibility for their teen and held their teen responsible for his behavior… a peaceful protest would not have morphed into a riot.”
This mother captured in the viral video knew her son, even with a mask on. And with the uproar we all witnessed in Baltimore, Dr. Gail Gross says this is a time for parents to set the record straight.
“She was saying yes this was a terrible, terrible thing but making other people victims isn’t the proper way to deal with it,” Dr. Gross says. Dr. Gross spoke to the FOX news affiliate in Houston, and believes that Ms. Graham is saying, Yes, what happened to Freddie Gray was a terrible, terrible thing, but making other people victims isn’t the proper way to deal with it.
According the Dr. Gross, so many of these teens come from homes where both parents work so they spend so much time with their peers however, “if you build rules with your children and consequence for your children, that’s an inoculation from peer pressure.”
“What she is saying is have responsibility,” Dr. Gail Gross says. “Take responsibility for your children. And that with responsibility come consequences.”
“If you build rules with your children and consequences for your children, that’s an inoculation from peer pressure,” Dr. Gross says, “You can have a child whose a great athlete and they don’t get it from home, they get it from sports and those children many times will step back.”
“At the end of the day, when you have children they grow up but you always stay a parent,” Dr. Gross says.
The Baltimore police commissioner even thanked that mother:” I wish I had more parents that took charge of their kids out there.”