A recent report released by the Children’s Defense Fund reported that one in five children in this country is poor (12.2 million children) In South Carolina, more than 1 in 4 (26.9 percent) were poor in 2012, a total of 287,664. Children of color in SC are disproportionately poor. More than 2 in 5 Black children, more than 2 in 5 Hispanic children, and nearly 3 in 10 American Indian/Native Alaskan children were poor in 2012, compared to nearly 1 in 6 White children. Less than half of South Carolina’s 3-and 4-year olds were enrolled in public or private preschool in 2009-2011. A total of 42 children and teens were killed by guns in SC in 2010—a rate of 3.4 out of 100,000 children and teens. SC ranked 27th out of 42 states in child and teen gun deaths.
What kind of civilization are we that we can tolerate these kinds of numbers? If these kids survive to adulthood and do not fall prey to the disasters of living in substandard housing and neighborhoods, in overcrowded situations, in shelters, or dumpsters, then they will be the people who serve us at restaurants, wipe our bottoms when we’re in a hospital bed, care for our grandchildren, and clean our facilities. They are essential to our quality of life. Why are we ignoring them?
We may actually be ignoring not only people who work for the least wages our society will allow, they may also be people who, given the right kinds of environment, family stability, and emotional support, may be our lawmakers, our discoverers of magnificent cures and life enhancers, and our artists who challenge us with words, beauty, and new ways of looking at life.
When we see a baby, we coo and smile and enjoy him or her. At what age of that child, do we stop and caring and begin blaming or ignoring that very same child? When is a baby no longer cute?