Wednesday, February 21, 2007

There's no cheap, easy way to help children

This is a powerful commentary:

We spout slogans such as "No child left behind" while refusing to fund the programs that would, in fact, help us to leave no child behind. We cut school funding, we cut funding for social support systems, we cut finding for youth intervention programs, we cut programs for parental education and support, we cut programs for family planning and sex education - we save a few dollars, and we willingly sacrifice young people to do it. We should be ashamed of ourselves.

And the rest of us, those of us who "know better," are guilty too. Too often we just shake our heads, wring our hands and wear our sackcloth in silent dismay. We, too, should be ashamed - ashamed not of our dismay, but of our silence...


It's both tough and expensive to support programs for intense early intervention for children in abusive and neglectful families; it's easier and cheaper to minimize the level of intervention and, quite literally, hope things get better for those kids and those families.

But face it: Cheaper and easier is not the answer. Today's neglected, abused, uneducated and disenfranchised child becomes tomorrow's neglectful, abusing, uneducated, disenfranchised, disaffected, and nonfunctioning adult and parent. Today's "savings" have a huge cost, both in dollars and misery, for future generations.

We piously state that "children are our most precious resource," then we knowingly watch as that resource is squandered. We need to feel a sense of shame, replace that shame with a sense of hope, and then parlay that hope into action for the sake of all of our children.

It's not too late. But with each day, it is getting later and later for those kids I'm talking about.

Gary Crum of Junction City is a former teacher and counselor.

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