A few days ago, I had heard about the now viral video of a father who placed his toddler son in a washer at a laundromat. However, I didn’t realize until last night that the incident took place in Camden, NJ–my second home for the duration of my PhD program. Needless to say, I was disturbed. After all, Camden is dealing with enough negative press without the added stupidity of negligent parents.
As a Public Affairs student in Camden, I am well aware of the city’s woes. In some ways, it is like the ugly sibling of the comparatively wealthy suburbs located within Camden County. At the same time, it sits in the shadow of its much larger and more prosperous neighbor Philadelphia. With the exception of a few small sections, Camden can easily be described as one large amalgam of poverty and urban blight.
In spite of Camden’s poor reputation, there are still a lot of people who have managed to accomplish a lot of good in the city. There are Mike Devlin and Valerie Frick who have used their organization the Camden City Garden Club in order to transform vacant lots into community gardens while providing educational opportunities for Camden youth. There is Hopeworks, an organization dedicated to education underprivileged youth and teaching them web design skills. There is also Heart of Camden, an organization dedicated to the revitalization of the Waterfront South area through the renovation and sale of homes in the area. This list doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of the various community development corporations and churches that are working hard to improve their neighborhoods.
(There is even the LEAP Academy, that is making a difference in the educational landscape of Camden, NJ even though their founder isn’t one of my favorite people for various reasons that are pretty easy to figure out if you know me personally or read this blog closely enough.)
It’s just unfortunate that in the midst of all the good that is happening within the Camden, NJ, the city ended up making national news because of one father’s horrible, horrible judgment. Then again, it’s not surprising. Bad news travels much quicker than good news these days–especially in the age of social media. Indeed, the only reason that this story has become national news is that the owner of the Camden laundromat chose to put the footage from her security cameras on Youtube. (She stands to profit greatly from the popularity of the video, which at the time I am writing this post has already received a multitude of views and has inspired several responses. Eventually, she did turn the footage over to the Camden Police Department.)
Still, it would be great if Camden could receive some positive attention because it’s not all bad.
UPDATE: Apparently the toddler was with his babysitter and a male acquaintance. It’s a relief to know that Camden parents are not that irresponsible. However, that babysitter probably needs to consider a career change.
Here’s the camera footage from the laundromat.
“It’s Good in the Hood” – (Camden’s Own) Tye Tribbett & GA