The streets of Kensington can be unsafe and uncertain. Police sirens often blare as they race down Kensington Avenue. Drug deals occur on many corners, and worst of all, children are often left unattended on the streets, leaving them in danger.
But after the rape of an 11-year-old girl in Kensington, parents are taking a hard look at how to protect their children.
“I’ve always been worried about children’s safety because children are vulnerable. They don’t know good from bad unless you teach them,” says Delphine Teagle, who understands the dangers of leaving a child alone on the streets of Kensington. Having a son the same age as the girl who was raped, Teagle fears for his safety.
“Of course, they hear things on the news, but they don’t think that could really happen to them until they see it,” Teagle says.
To ensure that her son receives the proper amount of safety, Teagle accompanies her son on the bus to Mariana Bracetti Academy to make sure he gets to and from school safely.
Shaking her head, Teagle says: “A pedophile is a pedophile. Boy or girl, they don’t care.”
While she admits her son is extremely embarrassed by his mother’s companionship, she simply explains that she’d rather see him safe than sorry.
“Sometimes I wish that all kids could just be homeschooled but then they’re gonna have to go out in the world someday.”
Marsha Kerney agrees with Teagle when it comes to keeping a close watch on her child.
“I am very worried about my child’s safety now because no matter where he goes, no matter what he does, you always have to be with your child.”
Much like Teagle, Kerney explains that she must also accompany her son wherever he goes.
“To me, if they are on the s
treet, they’re still not safe,” Kerney explains.
“Even if he comes to the playground, I’m with him. No matter where he goes, I’m with him. I don’t leave my son unattended. If he’s outside playing, I’m with him. You have to have an eye for your child.”
Sure, many children find this extremely embarrassing. Especially upon entering adolescence, when being seen with your parent could ruin your “cool” reputation. But in Kensington, there are no exceptions. Because in any split second, a child’s life could be jeopardized or even worse taken away from them.
Many parents find comfort in knowing their child has a cell phone for emergencies. In those slight instances that Kerney and Teagle leave their child unattended, they find comfort knowing their child has access for help.
“He has his cell phone, so he can call 911 or he can call Mom or Dad, but I tell him to call 911 first,” Teagle says.
“That’s another good thing kid’s should have. I mean it’s not that much money. For $30, it’s worth your child’s life,” Teagle explains.
Kerney agrees cell phones are essential.
“A child should have a cell phone because if he doesn’t have a cell phone, than how am I going to get in contact with him,” Kerney explains. “I need to hear his voice.”
But to some adults, a child can mishandle the responsibilities that come with having a cell phone.
Daniel Diaz, the Lighthouse Inc. Youth Services Sports Director, explains why.
“It is so they can contact their parents in case of emergencies, but a lot of time it’s being used for other things as far as taking pictures and sending them through everyone in the neighborhood and exploiting children.”
While all parents must keep a keen eye on their children, those with younger children must keep an extremely close watch to ensure their safety.
Kevin Roemhild understands the trials of keeping a child safe. He might even say it is a full-time job in itself.
“For younger kids always keep your eyes on them. Know who their friends are and their parents. Never let them talk to strange people. Never let them chase objects into the street. No outside past dark and again, never take your eyes off of them. That is most important.”
Parents can do an amazing job at raising their children. They can install morals and values. But the parents cannot control the streets.
Kerney believes parents need to hold a firmer grip on the safety of their children.
She boldly says: “Parents need to step up and be with their child more often. Don’t send your child to the store. I don’t care if the corner store is around the corner. Walk your child to the store.”