Save the children: Stories reveal the real reasons why we have to do something new
Every child lost in any community is a reason to look harder at the world in which we live and the decisions we make as a society with regard to personal freedom and parental obligation.
A 6-month-old child could possibly have lost her life at the hands of her father -- and charges have also been filed against her mother. The courts will have to decide whether either is to be held responsible for their daughter's death. Passing judgment on that case or others like it is not why there is a discussion to be had.
This is not about one individual case and one child's death. It is about the hundreds of children across Wayne County who grow up in homes where there is little attention, little care and where parenting is considered a chore, not a joy -- and the thousands of children who face the same circumstances across North Carolina.
Pundits talk all the time about rights -- the rights of people to have as many children as they want regardless of whether or not they have the means to care for them, the rights of parents to keep custody of their children even after they have had them taken away once and the rights of privacy of parents who receive assistance from the government for their children, yet are not required to provide documentation that those children are being cared for properly.
We talk about supporting charitable organizations, but often stop short of discussing why we need them. Sometimes it is easier to give money to others to find solutions to social ills rather than really facing what is causing them.
But perhaps that is not enough anymore.
What we should talk about more are the rights of children to have homes where they have enough food, clothing and other necessities, where they are encouraged to pursue an education and supported in that pursuit, where they have loving parents who care for them and who make sure they have good examples to follow and that they are safe.
And maybe it is time, again, to think about what kind of country we want to live in as we move forward into yet another decade.
One fact is certain: It is time to hold more parents accountable for the responsibilities they shirk and to hold more adults responsible for the decisions they make.
Have as many children as you want, but if you do not care for them, you will be penalized in a manner that takes away your freedom and forces you to take care of your obligations.
And if you cannot make responsible decisions for yourself, we will help make the decisions for you.
We have to change the way the world is heading -- and soon. We cannot afford to continue the other way. There won't be enough people left doing the right thing to pay for those who are making different choices.
So, let's start small.
The next time you see someone "selling" food stamp money to get cash to use for items that are not on the approved list, turn them in immediately.
If you know someone who is not caring for a child, let child protective services know.
If you can help provide a tutor or a Big Brother or Big Sister for a child, volunteer.
If you see a child you know is hungry or who has tattered clothing, help out.
If you see something, do something.
Reinstituting the values that made this country great is going to take a movement.
But its first steps will be taken one at a time.
Published in Editorials on May 14, 2010 11:37 AM