Article by Guest Editor Alexandra Shiels (see below after her article)
It’s time to face a harsh truth, America: We’re all talk and no action when it comes to caring about kids.
Did we care about children when we forced 2 million school-aged children to work 50 to 70 hours a week in dangerous mills and factories in 1810 and ironically it took the Great Depression to get our country to give a fuck and end child labor nationwide?
Instead of focusing on our broken foster care system or the 13.1 million children go hungry every night or that 1 in 10 children will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday or the five children die every day from abuse and neglect, we choose to force motherhood on American women by passing draconian abortion laws. If you are pro-life, and narrowly focusing on abortion rather than foster care and education reform, your philosophy is empty and you are morally bankrupt.
Where was the care for children when Tamir Rice was killed by police or when Trayvon Martin was shot by “neighborhood watchman,” George Zimmerman (even after being told by the 911 dispatcher that “he didn’t have to follow [Martin]”). No fucks for Aylan Kurdi, a 3-year-old Syrian boy washed up dead on a Turkish beach, one of the 2.8 million children who have been displaced from their homes because of the Syrian War. Our response to seeing images of Syrian children covered in ash and blood? “Not our country, not our problem.” But you know, #AllLivesMatter
How can we say we love our children when our Congress didn’t pass comprehensive gun reform after 20 children (between the ages of six and seven years old) were gunned down with a Bushmaster Model XM-15 E2s rifle by a mentally ill 20-year-old man in Newtown, CT.
A society that cares about family values wouldn’t have elected Donald Trump, who has denied payment to the young performers at his own election rally and who elected the offensively unqualified Betsy DeVos to be Secretary of Education. DeVos, who believes 90% of rape survivors are lying and whose ablest policies mean the least accessible buildings and humane treatment for our disabled youth. We force teachers to buy their own classroom supplies, pay them meager wages, and prioritize the appearance of efficiency rather than actual learning. Despite all evidence to the contrary, we force all children to learn the same things in the same way, rather than focusing on each child’s strengths, thus guiding them towards the right path for them, instead of the path we think they should be on.
Pro-life? Then you need to be all in. It’s easy to be anti-abortion, but harder to do the work to change a system that exploits and leaves so many children unprotected. If you are pro-life, then:
- I want you passing out condoms and educating everyone old enough to have sex about sex, which doesn’t mean abstinence-only. It means teaching boys and girls about reproductive health and connecting self-respect with their choice of sexual partners
- Repair our broken foster care system by becoming case workers or foster the abandoned, abused, and neglected children that are here, hurting, and waiting for you to be their life champions
- Support affordable, educational parenting classes, especially for low-income families
- Care about all children, not just your own, and not just white ones. Ask yourself why black children are routinely seen as threats (ahem, Tamir Rice) while white college-aged males who rape (ahem, Brock Turner) are misguided scamps whose promising sports career shouldn’t be ruined because of a small mistake like raping a girl behind a dumpster. Why don’t pictures of small Syrian children like Omran Daqneesh covered in blood and ash should inspire you to implore “let them in!” rather than “keep them out!?”May our love for our children be so powerful that we inspire each generation to be more empathetic than the one before it. If we truly believe that life is sacred, there is absolutely no excuse for a country as wealthy as this one to not provide children with automatic access to affordable health care, education, food, and clothing. If we truly care about children, act now. Build them a better world. Devotion above profit. Broken children become broken adults.
Otherwise, admit that we don’t and never have cared about children.