Editor, Commonwealth:

The greatest obstacle facing a child is not poverty. It is growing up in an environment where he or she is deprived of the company of loving and caring people.

Children who are forced to survive in a heartless environment have an array of problems. A lack of love and care tend to leave children with stunted growth, damage to their intellectual capabilities and some major emotional issues. Added to this fact is that many of our social institutions fail to reach out to these children because we have labeled them as the problem.

The idea of the bad child creates the illusion that this child is solely responsible for the conditions he or she is placed in. I can’t think of a greater miscarriage of justice.

Imagine this scenario: You wake up this morning, and the first thing you hear is a barrage of profanity directed at you, followed by the fact that you are pushed out the door to go to a place where no one understands you and no one has made sure that you are wearing clean clothes and you don’t smell like a billy goat. After you arrive at this place they call school, you are treated as an interloper, and when you finally return to this dwelling called “home,” no one asks you how your day was. Do I need to say more? Hold up, there is one more thing. You are only 6 years old.

It is wonderful to have all of our social awareness groups and superb programs. However, common sense should tell us that without a huge safety net and some overpowering interventions, these individuals are headed straight to prison. It is at this point in which our shame gets deep.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said “that it is a sense of spirituality and education that allow us to change.” What is the likelihood of these children getting to church? If the school district offers, do real alternative programs meet the needs of these children? They are convicted before they ever arrive in this world.

So what would be wrong with taking the spiritual lessons to wherever these individuals are located? Why do some school officials not recognize the importance of having a true safety net for its most vulnerable population?

Children don’t get the option to choose family. We must find a way to give them something other than a heartless environment and a bunch of negative labels.

Charles Brady

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