Editorial: Take care of children now for a solid future
In a little more than one month, 2008 will crown our calendars. Now is the time to start dedicating ourselves to the goal of caring for all children - not just the ones sitting at the "kids' table" at the Thanksgiving Day meal.
The numbers are scary.
According to research from the Child Welfare League of America, one out of every 33 children in the U.S. has a parent in prison. The Yavapai Family Advocacy Center notes that children of incarcerated parents are five to seven times more likely to end up behind bars themselves and one third of Arizona's prison population had at least one incarcerated parent when he or she was a child. Fifty-eight percent of children of incarcerated parents are younger than 9. Methamphetamine users are three times more likely to abuse their children and four times more likely to neglect their children.
According to a study by the National Fatherhood Initiative, children living in homes where the father is absent are five times more likely to be poor; are twice as likely to drop out of school; score higher on delinquency and aggression tests; become pregnant and marry before graduating from high school; and are more likely to suffer from emotional neglect.
A 2004 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services study shows that, in two-parent families, children younger than 13 spend an average of 1.77 hours in daily activities with their fathers and 2.35 hours with their mothers. That figure plummets to 0.42 hours a day with fathers and 1.26 hours per day with mothers in broken families. In 2005, Developmental Psychology published a study showing that when both parents actively involve themselves with their child's education, that child has better grades.
Other studies show that today's children are overweight, out of shape and do not respect their elders, teachers and other people of authority.
Today's children will be the ones caring for us in our dying days. The knowledge, skills and characteristics that we will want them to have comes from their lives today. Ask yourself this question: Are we setting a solid foundation?