It’s no secret that a lot of us believe apartment children are destroying our neighborhood.

But as this month’s cover story by editor Becky Bull points out, children living in apartments aren’t necessarily our culprits – instead, it’s the children who move with their families from apartment to apartment throughout the school year that are disrupting schools and neighborhoods.

So what can we do about the problem?

One of the strengths of a great neighborhood is that by the time any newspaper or television station identifies a problem, neighborhood residents already are trying to address it.

It’s no different here in Lake Highlands, where Donna Halstead, Ray McKelvey, Ed Barger, Bill Blaydes, Jim Mattingly, Betty Hersey and Tim James – to name just a few – are tackling what will be the defining issue in our neighborhood during the next few years.

It’s ironic that our very success brings us to this point.

After all, parents of all races and income levels have one overriding concern when it comes to their children – they want the best education and the best living environment they can find.

RISD’s school system has become a magnet for families – both homeowners and apartment tenants – who want to give their children the very best public school education available.

Unfortunately, once we’ve established residency in this, or any other, school district, our children don’t automatically grow up to be productive adults.

As Ted Moulton, RISD’s area superintendent for Lake Highlands, points out in our cover story, our schools can only provide a framework for success. After that, it’s up to the child, his or her family, and the extended family of neighbors, to ensure that all of our children develop a love for knowledge rather than violence.

Let’s face it: Some of us have been blessed with better family frameworks than others. For whatever reason, some of us don’t wake up in the morning hungry, dirty, broke, alone or afraid – all before the school day begins.

And we don’t spend the school day wondering whether a drug dealer uncle or twice-removed step-boyfriend is going to beat us up when we arrive at home.

Putting myself in the shoes of these children, it’s hard to imagine being concerned with high school algebra when you’re afraid to go home.

Simply put, some of our neighbors need our help.

Now if these neighbors were only a little more like the rest of us, looked and talked a little more like the rest of us, lived their lives a little more like the rest of us, it would be easier to do the right thing and help out.

We could do what we do with the neighbors who are more like us: tutor their kids or invite their family over for dinner or carpool to the soccer game.

But I find it hard to bring myself to become too chummy with people who, quite honestly, scare me a little bit. It seems kind of dumb to make a politically incorrect statement like this, and it looks even dumber in newsprint, but it’s no less true.

I’d like to help, sure, but…

Luckily for people like me, people like Donna Halstead, Ray McKelvey, Ed Barger, Bill Blaydes, Jim Mattingly, Betty Hersey and Tim James already have taken the first step.

You and I don’t have to be leaders in this battle. We simply have to be willing foot soldiers in the fight to save the way of life we moved here to find.

At the end of our cover story this month, we’ve published the telephone numbers of these people and their organizations.

They need our help, and we owe it to ourselves, to our neighbors – all of our neighbors – and to our neighborhood to pick up the phone and make a difference.