Our Undeclared “War” on Kids
We are a bellicose nation. Even if the cause is just we like to label our initiatives as “wars.” In the Kennedy-Johnson era we launched a war on poverty. For the past number of years we have (mostly misspent) our billions on fighting the war on drugs.
More recently as we allow our governments to spend more money building prisons to incarcerate our kids rather than schools to educate them, I’m beginning to. wonder if we are not in effect, embarked on yet another war, a war on kids.
Look at the facts. When compared to almost any developed nation, our kids score dismally in math and science tests., On the other hand, we lead all nations, first or third world countries, in the number of our youth we throw in prison. We label this battle “a war on crime.” I call it a war on children.
When we have to battle for every budget dollar to pay for daycare for our children or paid pregnancy leave for young mothers or a living wage for the parents of our kids, it’s time to admit it. We are at war with our future generation.
When I read the War Games trilogy, I could not help noticing a resemblance to our own times. Remember, in that book, the government sacrificed the cream of its youth in war games so that those in power could live in comfort. We too, send our young men and women to wage war on shadowy enemies. Then, we begrudge them their veterans benefits when they come back wounded in body and in soul.
We put our future generation in hock with their student loans. We try kids, some as young as 12 or 13, in adult court. Counselors in group homes for youth are paid less than their buddies flipping hamburgers. Pre-school teachers, to whom we entrust our small children, need food stamps to support their own families.
There is a lot of wisdom in the old adage, “In war, there are no winners.” When we cheat kids out of a good education by our failure to support our schools, or by sending them to prison for nonviolent crimes, or short-changing our second rate foster care system, our kids will not emerge winners. Nor will we.
It’s time we called a truce in this war. If a society is judged on how we care for our children, we aren’t doing very well. We can do better. Our kids need us to do better.