At the last Warren City Council meeting, officials discussed the two ''shield details'' from the prior weekend where as the result of saturation patrols by law enforcement, many arrests were made, including 21 that were drug-related. The talk turned to the topic of ''how did things get this bad?'' and ''how can we fix this?''
Some council members blamed the economy for the crime in Warren. I agree that the economy is a problem not just in Warren, but in all of Trumbull County.
My last column urged that we take advantage of the opportunities that oil and gas will bring to our area, but economic development will only go so far to improve our community. The root of the problems we have goes deeper.
Councilman Jim Valesky hit on it when he talked about the children in our community, saying that there are children who aren't being taught values. He even acknowledged what some in government often fail to acknowledge, that teachers can only teach so much; parents need to be teaching their children what is right and wrong.
At our church, our pastor has been preaching a series called ''Family Matters.'' Family does matter, not just to us as individuals but also to our community.
The family existed before the church. We had families before we had governments. Family is the foundation on which society exists. If that foundation is faulty, a community will fail.
There is this notion that poverty causes the destruction of the family when in reality it is the other way around. According to the Heritage Foundation, children in single-parent families are six times more likely to live in poverty. Seventy-one percent of poor families with children are unmarried. Marriage reduces the likelihood of poverty in all racial groups.
Additionally, there is a link between violent crime and households without fathers. The Heritage Foundation also found that high-crime neighborhoods have high concentrations of households with no fathers. They also found that even in high-crime neighborhoods, 90 percent of the children from stable homes did not get involved in crime.
We have many children growing up in our community without fathers, but what can we do? Churches, individuals and organizations can work to reach out to these families. There are some programs here in Trumbull County that are doing just that.
The Warren Family Mission is one organization that is working to restore families and reaching out to at-risk youths. Many people erroneously believe that all the mission does is feed the homeless. It does much more than that.
Warren Family Mission has a residential treatment program for people with addictions. It is fully funded by donations. This program is helping to restore families and our community.
As individuals, we need to support those groups and churches that are making a difference. We also need to look at what we're doing. Are we teaching the right values to our children? Even more importantly, are we living the values we teach? Are we reaching out to kids who don't have both parents and helping them along the way?
I come from a family situation that was challenging - my mother was severely mentally ill. Two things made a huge difference in my life: I had a wonderful father who stuck with raising four children when it would have been easier to give up. He was a model to me of how to live my life. I also got involved early on in a church where people took the time to reach out to me and show me God's love.
I haven't talked much about what government can do to restore families. That is because I think that there isn't much government can or should do.
Those in public office should remove roadblocks for the organizations that are working to restore families. For example, the Warren Family Mission has purchased the former Christ our King Church on Tod Avenue. A zoning change is needed for it to use the property for the Mission. The Warren City Council should approve this change so that the Mission can continue to do good works.
I have a rather cynical friend who sometimes mocks my optimism. He's lived in Warren a long time and has watched his city crumble before his eyes, so I don't blame him for his cynicism. I sometimes get discouraged, too; but we can't let discouragement and cynicism win.
We can make our community better if we work to make our families better. Trumbull County's best days are only behind us if we leave them there.
Yoder is a West Farmington resident. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org