Bad parenting is as big a challenge as child poverty

Last Monday’s editorial page was full of discussions of the problems of child poverty and possible ways to improve it, including Mayor Brandon Scott’s Guaranteed Income Plan (“Baltimore’s ‘Guaranteed Income’ Pilot Program: readers weigh in on mayor’s plan to give 200 low-income families $1,000 a month”). Of course, as some level of poverty is unavoidable, virtually all solutions offer financial assistance. However, in approaching this problem, it is time that we consider the appearance of the child. No child is inevitable; each child is the result of a decision made by his parents. Too many children are born into toxic environments. Almost exactly three years ago, these editorial pages witnessed the tragedy of Dawnta Harris, who was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of police officer Amy Caprio, as one example among countless.

It’s not about race. It’s about economy. It’s not about gender (other than what Mother Nature designed). Men and women share the participation. These are the values ​​that our community stands for.

To say that everyone has the right to procreate is correct. Is it also correct to say that every child is entitled to a decent chance in life? If it’s not, we should say so and accept the consequences, but if it is, it’s time to act that way. Our social system must unequivocally discourage “irresponsible parenting”. And, most certainly, providing adequate financial support and a “home” are part of a parent’s responsibilities. If we take the welfare of our young people seriously, we must change our attitudes and our actions. Do we need new laws, new policies, new procedures or simply more effective enforcement mechanisms?

This aspect of the subject should be considered in addition to, and not in place of, proposals for financial support. Equally important is tackling the societal cost of child poverty so well identified in The Baltimore Sun.

—Michael MacKay, Lutherville

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