Children are a long-term obligation

Apr 23 2013 - 11:08am

Rights. Medium word but at least in this country it's suppose to have a lot of meaning. Who has them and when? My interest here involves children.

I was wanting to write something, my opinion about gun background checks, gay marriage, gay boy scout members and leaders, and if women should be able to hold the priesthood. I was on my walk going by the Francom PSC when I notice all these pin wheels. 

Back at the office I then read that it's Prevent Child Abuse month. I also on the way home see other pin wheels around the city. After reading more about abuse, I found my commentary. 

The main article was soon followed the Stacy murder editorial along with an article about STDs in Utah. I also hear and read about the status of children worldwide and review information on the web to include the Utah Office of Recovery Services (ORS) and the Child Welfare League of America (CWLA). Some very depressing statistics.

The abuse article quoted Trina Taylor that everyone can play a role in prevention of child abuse. Guess this is my feeble attempt. A child -- by definition the most helpless, innocent, and vulnerable among us. And this is the best we can do? Even, as usual, a conference speaker mentioned the care and maintaining of our children.

Clearly, from reading website information, and since it's on the web it has to be true, we should be ashamed of ourselves. Consider the following: ORS has some 70-80K child support cases; some $200M was collected in child support for FY12; 130,000 children are on those cases; some 18K abuse cases were reported last year; of those, 9K were confirmed; abuse can take place either in one or more of four forms -- sexual, physical, emotional, and neglect; and 52 percent of child born are to mothers 30 years old or younger.

Why is it that for the most important responsibility we are entrusted with we are not required to have any training? pass a background check? get approval of some authority? or sign a contract to hold us accountable? 

The STD article noted that some two-thirds of 7K cases of chlamydia were in children ages 15 to 24. It's clear Utah does not need any help in learning about sex. For the lack or avoidance of sex education in both the school and the home, we do find in having children. In our cultural climate, on the left hand we hold fast to no worthwhile sex education in public schools while the same culture on the right hand encourages, promotes, and rewards the replenishment and multiplying of the species. 

The problem, in my mind both morally and economically, is that we don't prepare and hold to a higher standard as should be required, the parents both the care and upbringing of the child.

The $200M that is collected might be a big sum of money. What's not mentioned is what's owed.  Lets say some 60 percent is collected.  Would you like to only get 60% of your pay check? a gallon of gas? see 60 percent of a movie? 

I see lip service and ink being done concerning children by politicians and leaders but when in comes to spending the money to enforce and provide concrete prosecutions, they fall short. It's as if they define children using a utiliarianism definition. Since children are consumers (food, clothing, shelter, medical, and education) and not producers in society, they get minimum attention but that's all. 

Next election year just note how many running for office mention the family and children as our most valuable resource and then ask how much is going to be put into safeguarding those resources?

Unfortunately, as I understand the law, failure to pay child support does not constitute abuse. If correct, this should be changed. Note that the unpaid 40 percent of unpaid child support is an average which means that those 40% are not getting any support for the month. No laws, rules, regulations, or policies are going to prevent all abuse, I grudgingly accept this fact.

What I don't accept is that we can't do better, before conception to the birth to high school, in taking care of, providing welfare for, and safeguarding our children better. That 40 percent again, if calculated out on a monthly basis would come out to some $1M per month. Could our economy use another $1M every month? That money isn't being saved in a rainy day account. It's used right away for school, food, rent, activities, etc. 

The ORS primary mission statement is promoting responsibility. It doesn't say for whom this is being promoted to. Lets assume its the parents. Does anyone before or right after the birth inform both that they have just assumed a 18-year obligation? Are the consequences made known that if either party fails to fulfil their part what will happen to them?

Along with better sex education information being provided, stronger laws against abusers, and better methods of collecting support, we have to do better. Since rights by law are limited to children, it's us adults that are charged with ensuring their rights as being children are not violated and if they are, to hold those responsible accountable. 

We are great having children. Apparently we need to do much better in caring for them.

Thompson lives in Ogden.

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