PROTECTING CHILDREN

Too many states don’t see the value

 

America is now No. 1 in child homelessness; one in 30 kids, or 2.5 million, experienced homelessness last year (“1 in 30 kids is without a home,” Nov. 17). Many states don’t offer children insurance, crisis nurseries, day care, prenatal care or health care — and parental leave for new babies is off the table in half the nation. The United States is well known for having the highest child poverty rates, STD rates, juvenile crime and preteen pregnancy rates among advanced nations.

States that don’t offer prenatal care, day care, insurance, or housing for babies and young children cost themselves in the long run in crime, prisons and dysfunctional adults. Unhealthy children become the opposite of taxpaying, productive citizens, and they are very expensive.

States without child-friendly policies are filled with legislators who can’t add. If they could, they would see the terrific long-term costs that unhealthy children without coping skills create in crime, prisons, health care, and extreme pressure on schools and social services.

Unhealthy and unprepared children are why our schools repeatedly rank at or near the bottom with reading, math, science and history test scores among the industrialized nations.

Commentary writer Daniel Heimpel’s suggestion to create an Office of Child Protection is a great idea, but long-term probabilities for its success are not very good (“The case for a child protection czar,” Nov. 17.)

Children can’t vote and adults are mostly given to fist-shaking and blaming if reminded of institutional failures when a child is found in a dumpster or dead after 15 reports of child abuse. States will fight for their rights to not provide insurance, prenatal care or child protection and make it sound like they are “saving families” in the process.

A child protection czar would be busy 2 4/ 7 fighting with the states that seem committed to policies of ignoring poor families, child death, child mortality, child poverty, child health and uninsured children.

I like the idea of protecting children and creating a child protection czar, but Hercules died a very long time ago and I don’t know who else could win that fight.

MIKE TIKKANEN, Hopkins

 

The writer is founder of Kids At Risk Action. To learn more, go to www.invisiblechildren.org.