BICC plays a vital role as a facilitator and leader in addressing social, economic and cultural issues in Cleveland and Bradley County.
Since its founding in 1998, the Bradley Initiative for Church and Community has built a track record of successes, such as the “Reach” adult high school program, Starfish, the Anti-Racism Team, the Bradley Initiative Credit Union, Community Foundation, Anti-Drug Initiative, scholarships and more. I am pleased to lend the support of my office to BICC’s newest initiative, the Summit on Families and Youth.
Leaders from the community’s civic groups, businesses and government offices, as well as church organizations are urged to come together on Saturday, June 2, for a day of dialogue. The goal is to develop a shared vision for building healthy families which will result in a healthy community. The meeting will begin at 9 a.m. and end at 2 p.m. at Johnston Woods Recreation Center.
This is a timely and relevant endeavor and I am grateful that BICC has stepped up to the challenge.
Today’s families are struggling to deal with issues that negatively impact the physical, mental and social well being of our children. Our records show that since 2009, one in 21 students in Cleveland and Bradley County have entered the Juvenile Court System each year. The Campus Court numbers are even higher at one in 14. These numbers reflect the challenge we face as a community to help each of our children become productive citizens.
These issues are not unique to Bradley County. On a national scale, statistics compiled by the Census Bureau, Focus on the Family and others show that about 40 percent of children who do not live with their biological father have not seen him during the past 12 months. More than half of them have never been in his home. Some 63 percent of youth suicides and 90 percent of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes.
Children from fatherless homes are 4.6 times more likely to commit suicide; 24.3 times more likely to run away; 15.3 times more likely to have behavioral disorders; 6.3 times more likely to be in a state-operated institution; 10.8 times more likely to commit rape; 6.6 times more likely to drop out of school; 15.3 times more likely to end up in prison while a teenager; and girls are 6.6 times more likely to become teenaged mothers.
These statistics clearly reflect the need to strengthen families in Bradley County and across the nation. Family is the basic social unit or the glue that holds society together. It should be our first place of refuge, a haven of hope, love and support. Too many families are scarred with domestic violence, abuse and dysfunction. When we protect and strengthen families we are protecting and strengthening our shared values.
All families can benefit from information, guidance and help in connecting with resources and encouragement as they meet the challenges of parenthood and family life. That’s what the June 2 Summit on Families and Youth is all about. I hope you will participate as Brenda Hughes and BICC lead the effort to identify existing family-focused programs and resources, brainstorm other solutions to strengthen our families and community, and compile a list of activities families can do to strengthen their relationships.
The Summit is free and lunch will be served. You may be asked for a donation to help cover the cost of food. For more information, or register for the Summit, call 559-1112. You can email Brenda at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please let her know by May 25 if you plan to attend. BICC needs your help in uniting the community around the importance of healthy families.
I want to commend Brenda Hughes and BICC for taking the lead in this huge undertaking of protecting and preserving our families. BICC has a history of listening to the community, building relationships, analyzing the information and then moving the community to action.
This is one more reason I like to say … Bradley County is Tennessee at its best.