Tough talk: Forget the warm fuzzies; here is the stark reality
This discussion isn't going to be pretty -- especially since it involves the reality of the story of yet another little girl, born to a parent who never should have had her, who has likely ended up in a tortuous situation because of that parent.
The Fayetteville mother who reported her daughter missing last week has now been arrested in connection with the 5-year-old's disappearance.
She has been charged with human trafficking and likely played a key role in this terrible, sad story that ended in the death of this poor little girl.
We likely could have a tendency now to chalk this up to another irresponsible, idiot criminal parent -- and shake our heads about the state of the world.
But there is a much bigger issue than that -- one that not too many people want to talk about, not the way it should be talked about anyway.
This is another example of why it should be much harder than it is to have, to keep and to raise a child.
It is why we need to consider another way to handle those who have children they cannot properly care for, whom they have no interest in caring for and whose birth could be prevented with something as simple as a mandatory piece of birth control.
The sad part about this Fayetteville case -- and others like it -- is that they are the tip of the iceberg -- the ones we hear about. There are children all over this state and country who are nothing more than appendages for their parents, a chance to add to a check that they use for themselves and not to make sure their children have food and other basic necessities of life.
These are not people trapped in an unfortunate circumstance who are doing the best they can to survive with what they have. These are selfish, worthless adults who have no interest in taking care of the children they brought into the world and are even too lazy to make sure they don't have any more.
And we have to stop making excuses for them.
The only way to prevent this sort of child abuse and neglect is to make sure that these people face severe penalties for not caring for the children they have and that they lose money if they do not make sure they do not have any more.
That's right -- family planning, in some form or another, would be a requirement for receiving a welfare check.
It seems draconian -- telling someone when they can have children. And it is not a step that anyone wants to take.
But the fact is that we cannot afford to care for the large number of children who are being born into situations where they either do not have a viable parent or where there is no means to care for them.
These children face lives of abuse, neglect at the worst -- or simply perpetuate the same cycle of a lack of education, families too early and no means of support for the families they create.
And we cannot keep up with finding ways to protect these young children from the horrors their parents place them in -- obviously, since we seem to have lost another little girl.
Schools cannot fix this problem. And really, neither can a crew of overworked social workers. They simply manage the aftermath of the bad decisions that are becoming more and more prevalent.
To get through to these parents, there has to be a consequence they understand, a de-motivation to keep having children and a severe penalty that involves their own loss of freedom and time if they do not provide the kind of home necessary to allow a child to grow up happy and healthy.
And yes, we have to start judging -- who is worthy of aid and who isn't -- and getting children out of bad situations earlier rather later.
See, it isn't pretty.
To fix this problem and to do right by this little girl, we have to decide, right now, to demand more for every child who is brought into this world and from every person who takes on the responsibility that goes along with the title, "parent."
And that is a major task indeed.
Published in Editorials on November 17, 2009 10:39 AM