Mitchell: We can do a lot better than this

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De’Kayla Dansberry was a freshman at Johnson College Prep. | Facebook

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Mothers, put down the cellphone.

Your daughters need you.

The tragic and senseless killing of De’Kayla Dansberry is yet another horrible example of how we are failing our daughters.

The 15-year-old was fatally stabbed during a street brawl outside Parkway Gardens in the Grand Crossing neighborhood on Saturday.

A 13-year-old was charged.

But the tragedy was made far worst when police also charged that teen’s mother, Tamika Gayden, with first-degree murder and with contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Gayden, 35, allegedly gave her daughter the knife that killed the 15-year-old.


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Police are suggesting the fight might have been over a boy, which is terribly sad.

After the juvenile’s court appearance, De’Kayla’s mother pointed out that the circumstances surrounding this murder are “devastating,”

Tamika Gayden | Chicago Police photo

Tamika Gayden | Chicago Police photo

The accused is “just a baby too,” she told reporters.

The sad fact is this murder could and should have been prevented.

At some point, a responsible adult should have gotten involved. I say that knowing too often shutting down conflicts between girls is easier said than done.

Over the years, I’ve heard from tearful mothers who were at the end of their ropes with trying to protect daughters embroiled in disputes with other girls.

In most instances, the girls involved were not thuggets or gang-related. They were simply girls getting into petty arguments with other girls.

Too often, school and police officials don’t step in until someone is badly hurt.

While I’m not accusing these institutions of negligence, I am suggesting they are behind the times in dealing with this problem.

We don’t just need conflict resolution programs for teens, we need them for their mothers.

Today there are numerous examples of mothers jumping into the fray.

For example, in 2011, Timera D. Branch, 34, of Streamwood, was sentenced to 34 years in prison for using her car as a weapon to kill a 17-year-old over a dispute with her son.

In 2009, a New Orleans mother was charged with giving her teenage son the gun used to shoot a 17-year-old rival.

It was an older female cousin who allegedly handed a loaded gun to the 14-year-old shooter accused of fatally wounding 14-year-old Endia Martin during a confrontation in 2014.

When I was growing up it wasn’t uncommon for a mother to march a son or a daughter out the door to confront a rival.

And I’ll admit, I didn’t put up with my kids being chased home from school either.

But childhood squabbles rarely escalated into bloodshed.

We aren’t going back to the good ole’ days when the majority of us believed being a good neighbor meant looking out for each other’s kids.

But we could do a lot better than this.

When you suspect an Internet conflict has gotten out of hand, intervene. Go to the other girl’s mother and try to sort out the problem.

If that doesn’t shut it down, go to law enforcement and advise the authorities trouble is brewing.

In most instances, a visit from a police officer will be enough to put warring girls in check.

In these kinds of situations, adults have the advantage of experience.

We know that a beef burning up Facebook today will be forgotten tomorrow.

But a violent act will ruin a teen’s life forever.

Tweets by @MaryMitchellCST

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