It Takes a Village to Raise a Child

Everyone has heard of the African proverb “It takes a village to raise a child.” We find that not only is the saying universally known, it is universally agreed to with enthusiasm.

But when we ask most neighborhood people about the application of the saying, the responses follow a pattern:

“Do you believe that it takes a village to raise a child?”


If your neighborhood is like a village, what does it do to raise its children?  And to clarify, we don’t mean how do individual families raise their children, or how does the school teach them.  We’re asking how do you and your neighbors, working together like a village, help raise the local young people?”

Usually there is a long, thoughtful silence at this point and a response something like:

“Well, I never thought about it that way, but as neighbors, we really don’t raise our children together.”

Well, then, let’s imagine that you and your neighbors did decide to work together to raise your children, what would you do?”

Usually there is another long silence.  Very few ideas.  So there is a great opportunity to organize neighbors to raise the local children – to become a village that raises the children.

We have two questions:

First, in your neighborhood, have you done things together to help raise local children?  Or, do you know of a neighborhood that does something to help raise their children?

Second, what do you think could you and your neighbors could do together to help raise the neighborhood youth?

Let us know your answers.

~ John ~

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About the Lead Author

John McKnight
John McKnight is emeritus professor of education and social policy and codirector of the Asset-Based Community Development Institute at DePaul University. He is the coauthor of Building Communities from the Inside Out and the author of The Careless Society. He has been a community organizer and serves on the boards of several national organizations that support neighborhood development.

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