When it comes to health, hunger, addiction, education, and safety – we are shirking our responsibilities as a nation of parents. Child advocacy is not being addressed with the attention and care it deserves. Too many of our children are endangered physically and/or emotionally; this is a humanitarian emergency.
Most Americans probably don’t appreciate the level of chronic trauma experienced by our children today - but the chronic trauma goes unaddressed. Millions of children lack consistent access to sufficient and nutritious food, millions go to school each day in schools that don’t have working toilets, millions lack health care, and millions go to schools lacking the school supplies needed to teach a child to read.
The United States ranks at or near the bottom on almost every indicator regarding governmental policies toward children today. Our youth homicide rates are more than seven times that of other leading industrialized nations. Social scientists now describe “war zones”— areas in violently charged homes and communities -- where levels of trauma and post-traumatic stress among children are similar to those experienced by returning vets.
There is nothing “post” about the traumatic stress of our children when it is re-triggered every day.
How is not addressing these issues more forcefully anything less than collective child neglect? We must rescue our children from such crises no differently than if we were rescuing them from natural disasters.
A small child can’t feed, clothe, or educate herself. Children cannot vote against special interests that profit financially from activities that harm their health, deny them education, or profit off their problems. Advocacy for our children isn’t a charity issue, it’s a justice issue.
The United States is the only country in the world that funds its education system through property taxes, thereby ensuring that children in a poorer neighborhood will get a poorer education. This is the way a veiled aristocratic system denies power to anyone but the wealthy.
Since our government has increasingly aligned itself with the interests of corporate power above the needs of its people, it should surprise no one that the interests of children fall to the lowest spot on its priority list. Youth advocacy groups are no match for the economic clout accorded to corporate interests.
And this is hardly good economics. If our goal were true, long-range economic planning, there would not be one American in early childhood with anything less than the best-quality health care, education, and food.
The way to take care of our economy tomorrow is by taking care of our children today.
To ask for that doesn’t mean we’re asking for too much. There is no lack of money to do this. There is simply too much money going elsewhere.
We now know that a child’s brain is infinitely more flexible, emotionally intelligent, and capable of learning and retaining information than an adult’s. The neuroplasticity in the brain of a child is at its height before the age of eight.
The beginning of any system is all-important, and that is what childhood is. Once a beginning is set, things are far more difficult to change afterward.
As long as there is a dearth of women in positions of political power, this chronic tilting of American priorities toward short-term economic interests as opposed to humanitarian values is understandable. As long as women are basically invisible, children are invisible as well.
But women are taking more and more power with every election. A Williamson Administration would be not only a victory for women, but it would also be a victory for our children, and for our future as a nation.
As president, I would advocate for economic justice for women.
Proper prenatal care, regardless of ability to pay.
Proper healthcare for pregnant women.
Maternal and Paternal leave.
Affordable childcare and Universal pre-K.
Elementary schools and secondary schools of high caliber for every American student.
Substance abuse treatment and family counseling for families in need.
Mental health services for children.
And best practices of all kinds in schools and in communities that properly tend to children.