What is in a Name?

I do a lot of reading in my work. I also meet a lot of incredible people who are passionate about children. It is the best part of running a children’s organization – the people.

It is truly amazing to spend every day in association with people who want to make a difference. It is a privileged place to be.

Sometimes, I have the wonderful opportunity to read something written by one of the incredible people with whom I am so privileged to associate.

Recently, I read an excerpt of a new book: Hope Matters: The Untold Story of How Faith Works in America, by Jack Calhoun, a renowned national authority on children, and one of our National Advisory Board and Whole Child Committee members.

His comments on giving children a name – a place, a sense of belonging – resonated very strongly with me.

In this excerpt, he recounts his experience at a conference of educators, pastors and ministers in Washington, D.C.:

“At one of our meetings, held in a junior high school in Southeast Washington, D.C., a minister presented. He described what his church was doing to help stem the tide of crime and delinquency, referencing Head Start, mentoring, family counseling, after-school programs. He concluded: “We also go out into the streets to simply get to know the kids by name.”

I was stunned. How wonderful, how powerful! For underneath the bravado of so many kids is the profound ache of not being claimed, named by anyone. So many youth act on their profound loneliness, their almost primordial need to belong. How simple, but how basic to be called by name: it is parental. We name our kids. It is love; it is protection—“you are mine.”

While serving as Commissioner of Youth Services in Massachusetts, I heard a juvenile murderer say something I will never forget, “Commissioner, I’d rather be wanted for murder than not wanted at all.”

Some thoughts require no elaboration.

I do hope this might have an influence on someone in their own home, in their own neighborhood and community. Next time you see a child on the street that you think may be heading for trouble, say “hi,” and call him or her…by name!

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2 Comments

Filed under Initiative: Children's Issues

2 responses to “What is in a Name?

  1. Bob

    It takes such little time to do the kind of good described here. I am glad someone is out there reminding us of the need to treat a child with kindness, individuality and respect. Each has a name and I suspect likes to hear it spoken by others.. I know I do.

  2. Pingback: A Voice for Children

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