By Thomas Tracy
In order to quell youth violence in the streets, you must not only have faith in the child, but the child should have faith in a higher power. That was the lesson learned at a recent Borough Hall gathering, where the parents of murdered 15-year-old Christopher Rose told attendees that parents “have to take a stand for their kids.” “We have to be the Esthers and the Jerimiahs,” Sharon Rose told members attending the interdenominational Clergy Breakfast, entitled “Youth Violence and its Impact on our Congregations and Communities.” “You have to change the face of what is going on. Religion can help, but you have to be involved,” Rose said. The forum, sponsored by the Community Advisory Board of Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center, the Kings County District Attorney’s office, the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services and the New York Board of Rabbis, among others, was created to discuss strategies for prevention and intervention of youth on youth violence. Rose and her husband, Errol, were the special guest speakers at the forum. They were followed by a panel of professionals who discussed different methods on how communities could curb violence among today’s kids. “We have received an increase in calls where a child has been attacked at local schools,” said Rebecca Rawls, Clinical Nurse Manager for the Emergency Department of Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center. “In many of these cases, the child is severely injured. These are not minor things and most children will not speak about it. They keep it to themselves and parents do not know how to handle it.” Last summer, Christopher Rose and two friends were walking through East Flatbush when a group of thugs tried to rob his friend of his iPod. During the fray, Christopher, a church-going child who went to school in Pennsylvania, was stabbed in the chest. He died at Kings County Hospital a short time later. As of this writing, cops had arrested all of the teens involved in the slaying. Rose, however, believes that an indifferent community turned their backs on her son and his friends, cataloging them as simple “troublemakers” when they were attacked. “I’ve always heard stories about children being beaten up by bullies, but I never realized that this was such an epidemic in our communities,” said Rose, who after her son’s death learned that attacks among youngsters are all too common. “I thought that this community was safe. I thought that he could get in trouble in Manhattan, never around the corner from my house.” Parents and neighborhood religious leaders should do more to get into the lives of the youths around them, said Rose. “I appeal to the church to take action,” said Rose. “We have to be the salt of the earth and face what’s going on.” In her son’s memory, Rose has created the Christopher Rose Community Impact Coalition, whose goal is to fight youth violence “by finding positive alternatives for our children.” “It is paramount that the church and our communities reach out to these children,” she said. “We have to protect our young people,” added T.J Moses of Project CURE, a group formed following the Crown Heights riots to improve relations between blacks and Orthodox Jews in the borough. “Our children need positive reinforcement. We cannot let them rely on the neighborhood drug dealer or the guy that is hanging out on the corner who can’t read or write, but can count to 1,000 because that how much money he’s making there.” Borough President Marty Markowitz said that he is “convinced” that religion can save today’s children. “You show me a young child that goes to synagogue or mass and I’ll show you a kid that respects people,” he said.