Global Strife Reinforces Commitment to Protecting Children at PEP

Global Strife Reinforces Commitment to Protecting Children at PEP

By Habeebah R. Grimes, CEO, Positive Education Program

I desire to live in a world that is free from violence. My own childhood and choice to work in service to children, many of whom have experienced or witnessed abhorrent forms of violence, inform this desire and fervent prayer to end the suffering of children. I know in my bones, in my spirit, and in my very DNA, that neither individual nor collective problems can be solved through violence and that when we try to solve problems with violence it is children who suffer the most.

As my PEP colleagues and I work to help young people, their families, and one another manage increased stress and find hope and healing in the midst of colliding crises that involve health concerns, economic challenges, racialized trauma, gun violence, and strained safety nets among other things, our thoughts have turned toward the devastating violence that is impacting the people of Israel and Palestine. Our hearts break for the children of the region as we recognize the incomprehensible terror, loss, and grief that they are experiencing.

Bearing witness to such suffering further cements my commitment to supporting kids and families in ways that build empathy and compassion, such that children might become adults with the capacity for love. Our efforts at PEP to ease kids’ suffering and exposure to trauma is based on our deep understanding that when children are forced to endure prolonged, intense stress they are more likely to struggle as adults and because of their pain, they are at risk of being hurtful to other people and reenacting cycles of violence. This is a universal truth of human development. In this moment of global strife, it is important that we at PEP remain dedicated to our North Star: That all young people thrive in their school, home, and community environments, by creating sanctuary for those we serve in these frightening and difficult times.

The brutal massacre by Hamas in Israel, and subsequent blockade and devastating war in Gaza are miles away but touch the lives of people in our community profoundly. As an organization who seeks to serve children and families with empathy, compassion, and deep care, we will continue to live our values and be an example of what children need to thrive. We know that children desperately need us to understand their vulnerability and be concerned about their wellbeing. We will continue to work toward this for every child, no matter their race, religion, gender identity, or nationality. And in doing so, we implore others to follow our example.