A call to action for our kids

04/15/2014 12:00 AM

04/14/2014 9:55 PM

Once again, the unthinkable has happened.

And this time in Greater Kansas City.

A man with a long history of anti-Semitic rants is suspected of taking three lives Sunday in shootings aimed at Jewish institutions. A 14-year-old boy. The boy’s grandfather. A woman who worked for a midtown agency for children with visual impairments.

Hearts are heavy, and that’s one reason I’m grateful that the 816 newsmagazine is presenting an uplifting cover story this week. It’s about fathers who spend time in their children’s schools as member of Watch DOGS (Dads of Great Students.)

These fathers bring that all-important male presence to children who sorely need it. Our grade schools are staffed largely by women, and it’s possible that children from single-parent homes won’t encounter a positive male model on any given week, were it not for the Watch DOGS.

The Watch DOGS can’t take the place of dad. Nor can they do much mentoring one on one. But their helpful presence — reading aloud, opening milk cartons at lunch or playing tag at recess — shows students a side of manhood rarely seen on TV since Bill Cosby: a nurturing person who cares about others and values education.

Boys need this to become the kind of men that society wants them to be. Girls need this to choose wisely when selecting a partner.

We can never know whether the Watch DOGS’ influence ever deters even one young person from the path toward violence.

But recent events, whether a hate crime or bullets fired from passing vehicles, compel us to do all we can to guide our kids — while they’re young enough to listen.

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