Tenth Street, SE between G & E Streets is a quintessential Capitol Hill block lined with historic row homes. Every morning the block is bustling with kids headed to school, neighbors waving hello, and suits headed into the office.
Tuesday morning I dropped Stella at school and proceeded down the block. I smiled at the group of four teenagers laughing together as they approached my direction. I could tell by their uniforms they were students at Cesar Chavez Public Charter School located just two blocks over at 12th & G Streets, SE.
But as we passed the lone boy in the group jumped at me and hollered as if he was going to punch me. One girl filmed the incident on her phone and they all rolled in laughter. I was shaken and realized their earlier laughter was also at my expense. They planned the moment to intimidate and harass me.
A man walking his dog saw the incident and quickly crossed the street to scold the teens. They sauntered on with more reward from his outrage.
I came to the end of the block and decided to take action. This incident was not a police matter, but it required consequences. I headed to their school. The Cesar Chavez school administrators work to provide safe passage for the community and students before and after school, but more must continue to happen.
The three girls and one boy approached their school just ahead of me. The security guard held them in the reception hallway as I spoke to the Vice Principal. I don’t know what consequences were handed down to the youths, but they did shrink. No more laughter. I hope this small incident curbs a more dangerous path.
Our neighborhood is a victim to increased crime, most often from juvenile offenders. What begins as intimidation may quickly escalate.
As the day wore on I became saddened and incensed at the three teen girls who encouraged the boy. His action was not for or about me. It was meant to impress the girls. And by their filming and laughter it did.
We must teach our daughters as much as our sons that no amount of intimidation, harassment, or violence will be tolerated. None of it is harmless. Crime prevention cannot begin on the streets. It must be taught in our homes, our schools, and every thread of our community.
Too many people have been touched by violence in our community.
I pledge to:
· Stay vigilant
· Take action
· Be a voice in the conversation
· Be an example of zero tolerance
· Parent with respect and non violence
· Foster self worth for myself and others through the teachings of yoga
What will you do?