Friday, February 13, 2004

... Because We Don't Really Care About Children

There's something of a furor in New Jersey, were a high profile failure of the child protective system has revealed systemic faults, top to bottom, in that system. Cries are going out for "reform". Head will roll. Whatever.

The fact is, failures like that occur every day, around the nation. The difference is that if they don't inspire a headline, nobody notices. Our nation is very good at caring about specific children - a baby who falls down a well, the sole survivor of an airline disaster, the four starving boys from this case - and many Americans will give in an extraordinarily generous manner to funds set up for these children. But when children fall into the amorphous classification of "other people's kids", or worse - the children of the poor - our generosity ends. Where, with a name and a face, we can overlook the parent's "fault" in how the child was raised, and can overlook the child's "fault" in being born into poverty. But when it comes to taking action which will help impoverished and disadvantaged children as a whole, we plug our ears and shut our wallets.

The faults with the New Jersey child protective system were very real. But the fault for those defects lies with the people of the State of New Jersey. And when a similar travesty is discovered within your state's underfunded, overburdened child protective system, as will all-but-certainly happen, you should be ready to accept your share of the responsibility.


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