Friday, July 30, 2010

Awful (and worsening) stats for childhood poverty in SD - and fuzzy thinking on causes

More S.D. kids living in poverty | | Argus Leader

Buried in the middle of the article (although included in a graphic in the print version) is this:

More than 57,000 children lived in one-parent families in 2008, compared to 44,000 in 2000.

So the final quote in the article, seemingly its diagnosis, made me nuts:

"It all boils down to the economy going south with jobs... And if the family struggles, the child struggles."

Yes, nobody wants a bad economy and financial strain. But an intact, supportive family is better poised to weather such seasons. Divorce trashes the finances of both former spouses. And having babies without a partner, as "an experience" or "an accident" ensures stunted financial opportunity and sets up all kind of deprivation for kids.

We need to reclaim or find some common assumptions about child raising. The havoc - the real, measurable harm - of separating child raising from any communal reference points is staggering.

You know what really worries me? The problems of single-parent households are well documented - and certainly obvious in day to day life - yet they do not serve as a brake on the behavior. It's obvious stuff: financial struggle, constricted opportunities and choices, just plain harder living. Most of all, kids will suffer. Are we so self-centered and short-sighted that none of those negatives cause us to adjust our behavior?

God asked via the Prophet Isaiah,

"Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne?"

Obviously, she can. And she does so more and more in South Dakota.

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