Is it just me or has there been more news than usual about violence and dysfunction within families lately.  A state senator from Virginia was stabbed by his son who then killed himself, an Ohio couple will most likely face abandonment charges for leaving their 9-year-old adopted son with welfare officials, teenagers playing the “knock out” game which involves attempting to knock strangers out cold with a single punch are just a few that made headlines this month. And then there’s one about troubled singer Chris Brown reportedly shattering the window of his mom’s car with a rock as she ended her visit at his rehab facility.

This isn’t the worst story but it is disturbing for a lot of reasons, partly because Chris Brown is a celebrity whose life is falling apart before our eyes.

As a mother of sons, this news made me pause and try my best to imagine what his mom must be going through.  She’s one of thousands of women dealing with sons who for whatever reason have become a threat to others.   The Chris Brown we read about and whose antics we watch on TMZ and YouTube is just one part of  the young man that Joyce Hawkins knows and loves.

Most of us only know Chris Brown as a kid who would have and should have been one of the biggest pop stars since Michael Jackson.  He had the talent, the look and the cross over appeal that would have allowed him to write his own ticket to success.  He was the kind of artist who could fill an arena with little boys and girls, teens, and parents., and everyone could have a good time.

But when the photos of Rihanna’s battered face hit the media, he was done.

Depending on who you talked to he was either a woman-beating monster or a troubled kid acting out what he’d seen in his own home between his parents.

His and Rihanna’s relationship continues to this day to fascinate the media and the public.  And it seems like six months can’t go by without Chris Brown being arrested for assault.  We watch and comment because there’s not much else we can do, not for Chris.

But if we think that what’s happened to him is an anomaly, it isn’t.

Whether you’re visiting an alternative school or detention hall, a juvenile facility or a maximum-security prison, it will most likely be disproportionately filled with African American boys, teens or men.  Not all, but most are victims of circumstances that unfairly placed them in situations where the odds were against them from the start.

If you can read this and think to yourself how blessed you are that you are raising a boy or boys in a loving, supportive environment with positive male role models, where spiritual and moral values are embraced and education and a strong work ethic are being instilled, don’t pat yourself on the back.  Be thankful, but always recognize that your boys and men will have to face a world filled with males who have gotten none of those good things.   And to be honest, I’m not sure to how to get mine ready for that world.   Are you?

All I know is this Tweet from Chris Brown’s mom should have us praying for her and the parents of every black boy, including the couple who just didn’t have the strength to continue to raise the child they’ve had since he was infant:

“My angel with broken wings, God love(s)you so much and I do as well.”

This Thanksgiving if you can expose a child to life better than the one he or she is used to, that’s a good start.   If you’re a mentor or have benefited from one, please share your story.

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