Gone of the Days When Family, Friends and Neighbors Could Sit Safely Outside and Enjoy Each Other

Escalating crime on city streets instills fear in people and keeps them behind locked doors

Soap Box Rants/A WEEKLY COLUMN

By Pamela Bratcher-McMillan, President, Chair & CEO, PETAL et al.

Long gone of the days when one could walk down the street and see people sitting on the porch talking and laughing with their family, friends and neighbors.

What happened to this culture that was so prevalent back in the day when people felt somewhat comfortable being outside and enjoying interaction with family, friends and neighbors?

I remember a time when kids and teenagers played double-dutch (jump rope) and other street games which were instrumental in developing their social skills and, yes, giving them an overall sense of fair play and patience; like ‘my turn, your turn, your points, etc. – Your turn to turn the ropes, my turn to pitch the ball, Or, you have to draw the Hopscotch board today, I will draw them tomorrow.’

During the summer, neighborhood kids patiently drew on the sidewalk with chalk or small rocks and jumped rope, played ball, etc. until the Sun went down.  This was done all in the safety of one person or more sitting on their porches watching the kids while socializing perhaps with another friend or neighbor. If there was an argument or fight, it was ceased immediately, by the adults, of course, and the kids or teenagers were given a lesson on showing kindness to each other, learning how to get along with each other, showing compassion for each other, and how to treat friends fairly.

Today, they go back and forth with each other forgetting that there is a human being with feelings, a desire to be accepted and fit in…and loved. You cannot get that feeling with a machine between you. How can people share their experiences if they aren’t experiencing anything? It is certainly limited on a computer. You can’t see their facial expressions. You can’t hear the tone of their voices. You can’t see that they are crying or that you hurt their feelings. Words without feelings are left to the discretion of the person receiving them and based on their perception of how you feel about them.

Studies have shown that in neighborhoods where there is a presence of people sitting out on the porch after work usually don’t have as much crime as those of people who go home and close the curtains until the next day when they go back to work or school. The bottom line is that criminals do not want to be seen.

Imagine if everyone would have their curtains open or sit on the porch during hours that people are getting home from work and school. It could help to deter crime. While we do realize that in some areas the porch may not be the safest place to be, there are other ways to monitor the area safely. Computer surveillance equipment can play a key role in keeping the area monitored. With a small camera strategically placed in your window, you can monitor areas while you watch TV or have a window open on your computer while you cruise the internet.

Bottom line: We need to go outside and get to know our neighbors…each other, thereby, looking out for each other, forming a relationship dialogue with each other, and making good friends in the process.

Pamela Bratcher-McMillan is a technology expert and President, Chair & CEO, PETAL et al.