We dads have all tried to assume more responsibility and focus on the needs of the family before our own. And yet on these days just before Father’s Day, the following four ideas may inspire a few dads to make our community a better place:
1. Support Moms
Moms Demand Action, founded in response to the devastating shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, quickly flourished into a leading force for gun violence prevention with chapters in all 50 states and a powerful grass-roots network of moms. Dads need to support the moms.
Common-sense solutions can help decrease the escalating epidemic of gun violence that kills too many of our children and loved ones every day. Whether the gun violence happens in urban Baltimore, suburban Havre de Grace or rural Frederick, dads helping moms supporting new and stronger gun laws will protect our children.
Seven American children or teens are shot and killed every day. So our vision of a community where children and families are safe from gun violence must include education, motivation and mobilization to realize stronger laws that save lives. Dads no longer can stand by and let elected officials, corporate leaders and other influential voices turn their backs.
2. Act Against Cyberbullying
Six years ago, Judge Katie O’Malley introduced me to Christine McComas, the mother of Grace, her witty and happy Howard County teenager. But Grace was being bullied online. Every time she opened Facebook, she was terrified by a schoolmate threatening her with violence, rape and humiliation. Grace eventually took her own life to escape what seemed to be an unbearable reality emerging from the digital world.
No one deserves to be treated the way Grace was. In 2014, I wrote Grace’s Law, the toughest anti-cyberbullying legislation at that time in the country. Since then, the extraordinary growth of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat have given cyberbullying the oxygen it needs to spread like a malicious virus.
Sen. Bobby Zirkin recently took the lead to modernize our law and once again make it a standard that the rest of the nation can follow. But don’t kid yourselves, the internet will keep advancing, and we need to stay ahead of the curve.
3. Stop Revenge Porn
Revenge porn — or revealing/sexually explicit images or videos posted on the internet for malicious purposes — is antithetical to a civilized society. Example: your daughter’s boyfriend, upset that she broke up with him, posts a compromising picture of her taken in a private moment of passion.
Revenge porn has a particular impact on young girls. Victimized as teenagers, these daughters will have difficulty in college and a worse time getting a job. Note the powerlessness in preventing college admissions officers and employers from doing a simple Google search that turns up these old but damaging images. Years later, when the victim’s 10-year-old daughter searches her name, the pain, humiliation and uncertainty resurfaces. Predators exploiting our girls without consequence is unacceptable. Dads, let’s use our technology to improve our daughters’ lives, not damage them.
4. Clean Our Water
To think that climate change, chemicals and pesticides will significantly alter the lives and health of our children is depressing. Every child deserves to drink clean water and enjoy the outdoors. A few simple and fun things can make a difference:
- Install a rain barrel. Rain barrels reduce flooding in yards and basements, reduce water and sewage bills, and will absorb slowly into the ground, which replenishes the groundwater supplies and increases water resources.
- Create a rain garden. Use low areas in your yard to plant native vegetation, which allows water to infiltrate naturally into the ground rather than run off into the storm drainage.
- Participate in river and stream cleanups. Organizations such as Clean Water Action organize cleanups each season with communities across the watersheds.
- Go organic. Planting organic and native plants can help increase our pollinator population and provide fresh food for families, all while reducing polluted runoff to the local waterways.
- Lobby your legislators and stay informed.
Jon S. Cardin served as 11th District delegate in the Maryland General Assembly from 2003 to 2014. He is a candidate for the House of Delegates in the upcoming primary election. He has two daughters, ages 6 and 3.