12/20/2012

Ramblings about the war on children in the U.S.

There is a war on children these days. The Sandy Hook shooting is the latest in what I'm concerned is the continued slow erosion of society. Victims of domestic violence often have to flee with children in tow. The lessons they learn lead many of these children to identify as either victims or abusers. Neither is optimal. Only, a few children will emerge from violent households as neither victims or abusers.

Violence isn't the only assault on children. Poverty is taking its toll. In 2010, 22% of children in the United States were living in poverty. This means that almost 1:4 children don't have the resources that they need. Along with this sad statistic is the fact that almost 8 million children are without health insurance. They cannot go to the doctor when sick and know little (if anything) about preventative care.

Then there is the "anything goes" attitude, gun control arguments, violence on video games and in music and movies, child abuse and drug abuse issues. We also need to get to the root cause of teen pregnancy, truancy and affordable childcare. Which are the symptoms and which are the causes are up to debate. Which came first? Was it the chicken or the egg?

How can we fight the war on children?  In my opinion, we all need to search out ways to better support families. Health care and mental health care should be made affordable and available to all families. I am not talking about places that charge on a sliding fee scale. Many parents will tell you that the scale rarely slides far enough.

Schools need to have the funding they need to provide these services. Problem solving is a skill that children rarely have the chance to learn. Teachers need to be able to teach without having to worry about "teaching the test".

Personally, I would like to see mental health experts in every school who can provide therapy to at-risk children and families. This may be the only way that children can get the help they need. I also think that parents need to have the education they need to get out of poverty. Whether it is college, tech school or another trade or career, children deserve to have educated parents.

Churches and religious institutions need to stand up and be unafraid to be churches. Youth groups, children's groups, programs for young mothers and fathers can be offered by churches. Many pastors will tell you that their flock is doing the best job that they can (including me). I applaud those efforts but I still think that we can all do more.

Obviously, fighting the war on children is a multifaceted problem. There aren't any good answers and I don't have any to offer. All I know is that children deserve to be loved, to live outside of the bonds of poverty and to be unafraid to go to school.

Is that really too much for a child to ask?




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