Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Homeless Children

Want something to think about as Christmas rolls nearer? How about this? There are more homeless children in America right now than at any time since the Great Depression.
by Charlie Leck

The current estimates are that 1.6 million children are homeless in America (that is, these are children who go to sleep every night somewhere other than their own home). They are often confused and they often grow up to be angry, feeling that they’ve been cheated somehow by the system. Let’s not quibble about how they got cheated. Let’s concentrate on the fact that they, by and large, become less than perfect and model citizens – unless, of course, there is some serious intervention along the way.

Here, in Minnesota, we’re doing better than many states. The estimate, by people deeply involved in the questions and the problems of homelessness here, is that only 15,000 children will be homeless tonight. We have emergency shelters enough for about ten percent of those children. This is according to estimates provided by homelesschildrenamerica.org. You can go to the organization’s web site and take a peek at how your state is doing. It is sad, of course, to think about the other 90 percent. The temperatures will be significantly below zero tonight throughout our state.

Let’s say the organization is off by a third or so and there are only a million homeless children in America right now! Does that make you feel better? Wow!

We, the United States of America, with a million homeless children! What the? I repeat that: What the? (I learned from a daughter of mine that the common, social media way to communicate the same question is with a simple abbreviation – WTF?

I mean, we boast that we are the greatest nation on earth, but we have problems of poverty that are absolutely shocking.

And the conservative political parties in our nation think we are spending too much money on what they like to sneeringly call entitlements. How, in good conscience, can conservatives stand by and not see that that the government needs to have a significant roll in making sure these children do not just get lost in the system and end up in an endless and enduring cycle of homelessness, poverty and crime.

Entitled to what?
These children have certain constitutional entitlements that cannot be denied. And citizens and legislative leaders should make sure these are delivered. To end the cycle, we must provide proper and comfortable shelter, nourishment, and clothing. And, we must then ensure a quality education that will help them become productive citizens in the future.

Such entitlements might sound expensive, but that is only if they are looked at as a cost – as an expense. When seen as an investment in the future, they will then be recognized in the true light of their wisdom; and we shall realize that the nation will benefit from the futures such children will have in our American society.
The New York Times is running a series of stories this week on The Invisible Children. It is a series profiling individual homeless children who are among the more than 22,000 homeless children in New York City. The writing and photographs are extraordinary.


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