COLUMN: Childhoods and education lost to crime


Ellen Dooley

Ellen Dooley, Columnist

Crime has a lot of impacts in different areas of life. One of those areas is education. Whenever or wherever there is crime, there could be a possibility of disrupting the education of one or several people. These students can be as young as kindergarten or even as old as secondary education. Distinct types of crime can have different impacts on a person. 

For example, if a student is involved in gang activity, there is lost time for school or homework. It is far too often that we see younger children involved in these types of situations. It may even cause fear when going to school for those who may be there. Children may be exposed to traumatic events that are harmful to not only their education, but their childhood.  

There is no room for those children to have a normal childhood when they are constantly exposed to crime. Their thinking and learning is compromised, and they view life as they see it: a world of violence and aggression. Now, not every child who is exposed to crime thinks this way, but they are sometimes forced to “grow up” quick or way too soon.  

How can a high school student study hard or be involved if they are constantly the sole provider for their siblings or family? Crime does not only affect the victims, but the family and friends of the victim. If parents are taken too soon from their children, they not only have a traumatic event to live with, but they may feel the need to step up and take on their parents’ responsibilities. Thus, their daily life is impacted and there may be zero room for an education.  

Education is the key to success. If that key is somehow lost to crime, there seems to be a lost sense of success. We may see students lose motivation and drop out, or just not be fully involved in their learning process. But how do we combat these problems? How do we enable those affected by crime to keep going?  

It is extremely hard to cope with a traumatic event or to come from an unstable household. The main thing we can do is support these students. We can listen to them, give them resources, or even just let them know that we are there for them and their success. We can encourage them to keep going and defy the odds and define their future. Many students may feel a sense of a legacy of illegal activities from their guardians. It is important to remind them that they are in control of their life, and we are not who our parents were.  

Crime can tear a child a part. It can take away their childhood and education, leaving them with trauma. As a future educator, it is important to focus on these children and give them the best opportunities for them to succeed into who they want to be.  

Ellen Dooley is a sophomore special education major. She can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].