May/June 2014

RANIA MANKARIOUS
Leading Crime Stoppers
and Mothers Against Crime

Never underestimate the power of a bunch of mothers determined to improve public safety for   themselves and their children

That is exactly why Mothers Against Crime (MAC) was created earlier this year by Rania Mankarious, executive director of Crime Stoppers of Houston. As a mother of three, Mankarious feels passionately about keeping schools, streets and communities safe for her children. She knows too that other mothers feel exactly the same way!

According to Mankarious, discussions about forming MAC began after the tragic mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. To prevent a similar tragedy in Houston, Crime Stoppers of Houston began to focus on empowerment and education.

“I always say there’s power in education and in numbers, and that’s what we are really working on,” she said. “Our goal is to get every mother involved, every mother a part of the conversation and, hopefully, to encourage all to take those conversations home to their children.”

She added, “When women come together, there are ideas exchanged; there are programs and plans that come out of our meetings, things we can do to help each other. We create conversations with different groups and start expanding the messaging, and that alone makes a difference.

"People are finding they resonate with this new approach we are taking as an organization,” added Mankarious who holds a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy, as well as a law degree from the University of Houston.

“Crime Stoppers’ mission is to solve and prevent crime, and we’ve done an incredible job on the solving side. Everyone in Houston is familiar with our tip line, 713-222-TIPS, but what they don’t know is what we do on the prevention side.”

“We’re out in the community talking to everyday citizens and giving them tools that they normally wouldn’t have access to in order to keep themselves safe,” she said. “We’re talking to families; we’re talking to mothers. We’re in the schools, and we’re talking to kids.”

In April, around the same time 20 students were stabbed in a Pennsylvania high school, Crime Stoppers of Houston was able to avert a similar incident when a caller reported a student with a knife on a Houston campus, Mankarious said.

“That knife was safely removed, and not one person was injured. That’s the difference Crime Stoppers makes,” she added.

Fenner Weller, chairman of the board of Crime Stoppers of Houston, commented, “Mothers Against Crime reminds me of something I learned following Hurricane Katrina: mothers didn’t feel New Orleans was as safe as it used to be and moved to Houston for a better future for themselves and their children. It resonated very strongly that if mothers don’t feel safe, a community cannot prosper and thrive. Mothers Against Crime is a proactive group that looks into the concerns of mothers and families and makes education and prevention priorities. The end result is a happy, healthy and safe Houston for mothers, fathers, children, schools, neighborhoods and more.”

Cabrina Owsley, a founding member of Mothers Against Crime, agrees.  “Mothers Against Crime fills an important void in our community. The seminars, lectures and information MAC provides remind and teach us ways to ensure our children grow up in as safe and protected an environment as possible,” she said.

Honorary MAC members include Mayor Annise Parker and local TV personalities like Deborah Duncan of KHOU and Ilona Carson of KTRK, but the core membership consists of mothers from all neighborhoods They unite in their recognition that communities can be made safer through education, as well as philanthropy and community engagement.

Women can attend specific sessions or become members at various levels ($100, $250 and $500). All are invited to Crime Stoppers’ headquarters to attend seminars on a variety of safety-related topics, such as safety online, in the home, while shopping, identity theft, child safety, dating violence, crime trends, self-defense classes and much more. All proceeds raised by the group benefit Crime Stoppers’ ongoing efforts to prevent crime.

Important to note: Crime Stopperes of Houston has a number of other vital programs, including the Fallen Hero Project, which instantly doubles the cash reward offered by Crime Stoppers of Houston the moment a firefighter or law enforcement officer is injured or killed and a fugitive remains at large.

The Safe School Program has been providing public safety training to more than a million middle and high school students since its inception in 1997.  Like Mothers Against Crime, the Safe Community Program targets specific crimes affecting Houstonians and aims for prevention by holding educational and awareness events to the citizenship at large.

The anonymous Tipline has — to date — paid more than $10 million in cash rewards for information leading to the arrest of 25,000 felony fugitives and the solution of 30,000 felony crimes.    To find out more about Crime Stoppers of Houston, please visit the organization’s website at crime-stoppers.org.