There was a PSA segement a decade and a half ago shown on all the local TV channels here in California. It usually was shown sometime between the hours of 10PM and midnight.
The premise was “It’t after ten o’ clock……do you know where your children are?” It showed a bunch of teens at a house party or pool hall or out and about on the streets of urban and suburban California.
Did it do any good? Like all public service announcements, the results are debatable. In this case, I don’t think it did any good.
On Thursday night I hit the streets, no longer in my Salvation Army uniform…..but out to offer help, services, prayer, and encouraging words. What surprised me was that there were a ton of teenagers out and about….and it was a school night. I am not talking about an eighteen-year old-who is gonna graduate in a few weeks. I am talking twelve and thirteen-year-olds………at the corner of Fulton and Ventura here in Fresno, dressed “london” skin-head in style (new Levi 501’s, high gloss “doc martens” with a crisp oxford). I asked to a pack of girls “Hey, shouldn’t you girls be at home, this isn’t the best ‘hood to be walking around in…”
One girl who was playing in mommys make-up a little too much replied “Yeah it isn’t safe here, maybe you should go home, you being a white boy….”
“I live here. This is my neighborhood.” I said.
They laughed, we all chatted a bit…….the thing is………they didn’t seem to care, neither did their mom’s or grandmothers when I asked them about “What’s mom / dad have to say about you being out this late?”
Notta one mentioned a father. All had an aunt, a mom, an older sister or grandmother taking care of them. One of the older girls said she had seen me “on TV” (promoting the BSA locally a few years back). She asked how come I wasn’t in my Scout uniform. I smiled and asked her why she wasn’t at home getting some sleep?
I told them where the local police station was, where The local Salvation Army was, and said…..if any of you are runaways, and you need help, I have a number for you to call.
I offered prayer, one took me up on it (her name was Aieesha…pray for her…..if she actually had a dad, a PASTOR or grandfather around she would turn around quick).
Fresno is a rough town….and the neighborhood I live in isn’t the best…….but its home. I strive to be known in the area who wants and expects better. Keep these folks in prayer.
Leaning against a streetpost on the warm California night, watching the cars, the occasional hooker who always offers me a “good time” or says “You ready? I sure am.” This song beat upon my brain…………in so many ways, the music, the styles, the times have changed from the long ago year of 1972 but the message rings truer than ever in my life………………….