Politicians love to tug at our hearts with their concern for children’s welfare and the country applauds. But the end result is much ado about nothing. 1 in 5 children in the United States lives below the poverty line. What’s more, when compared to other industrialized nations, we spend less on our young than the rest of them. These are sad statistics for a nation that well knows a child’s IQs can be lowered when stressed by poverty and its concomitant effects — abuse, beatings and parental neglect. (“Problem Number One,” by Jeff Madrick, Harper’s, October 2013, pg. 15)
As Jeff Madrick points out in his Harper’s essay, while we continue to revamp our educational system, students ravaged by poverty reap little the benefit. They arrive in the classroom developmentally behind the norm and they drop out early. The greatest teaching system in the world can do nothing for them if they are absent.
Mexico has faced the problem of child poverty with success. They provide cash subsidies to poor families on the condition that their off-spring attend school. Since the policy has been implemented, more youngsters are getting an education than ever before and they’re better nourished. An added bonus is that child labor is on the decline. (Ibid pg. 16.)
Sadly, some members of the United State Congress, saddled with a Puritan ethic, seek to punish indigent parents by curtailing government aid, forgetting that by so doing, they create permanent hardships for the nation’s young.
In 1996, Hillary Clinton, the First Lady of the United States, wrote a book entitled, It Takes a Village. In it she expressed her concern for the welfare of our children. Bob Dole, the Republican candidate for president that year mocked her concern. In his speech to the Republican National Convention, he received a rousing cheer when he said, ” I am here to tell you, it does not take a village to raise a child. It takes a family to raise a child.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/It_Takes_a_Village).
Dole was partially right. It takes a family with a living wage to raise a child.
(Courtesy of www.rochester.edu)