Children have been an issue since they have existed and even today, us as a society still do not know the answer to the question, what should be done about the children? The only thing that we do know is that our views and the problems relating to children are still there, but have evolved to today s problems with society. Not only are we still unable to answer the question stated previously, but also there are new questions arising about our youth such as, how are we to deal with the youth that step outside the norms of our society? and how are we to deal with the children who are violent and unsuitable to be loose in society?
These questions will probably always remain unanswered since most of the answers involve opinion rather than fact. Not only would we have to find a solution, we would have to provide one that suits everyone in our society. As time has passed and as we have approached the 21st century, the view of our youth has steadily gone from little adults to kids. In the late 19th and early 20th century, children were regarded as little adults, made to work long hours and be involved in supporting the family such as the adults were required to do.
There were few, if none, child protection and child labor laws. Children worked in horrible conditions such as snow, cold, and unsanitary places. Children often died from being exposed to these unsanitary and harsh conditions as it was talked about in The Jungle, in which a young boy was locked overnight in the workplace and eaten by rats. Children were used as slaves in some instances as depicted in the movie Orphan Trains, in which many children were used as farmhands. Children also received significantly reduced amounts of education as compared to today, if any at all.
By the end of the 20th and the beginning of the 21st century, these views have moved to the other end of the spectrum. There are numerous child labor laws and children are required to be 16 before they can work, 14 if they possess a work permit. Even then, they are only allowed to work a certain number of hours, much lower than the 10-16 hours commonly worked by the children in the past. Children are required to attend school until they are at least 16 years of age and most children attend much longer than that. College is no longer a dream, but is fast becoming a necessity.
People are attending school much longer, which means delaying work for the first 25 years of their life, which was unheard of in the past. Children are not required to help support the family and are allowed to do things and possess things that children of the past dreamed of such as automobiles and education. Childhood today is viewed as a time of no responsibilities and commitments. Children in the past were viewed as little adults, as I have mentioned earlier. They are treated a lot like adults in the hours they work, the type of work they do, and the responsibility placed upon them.
Children were exposed to adult like environments daily in the conditions of the places they worked and the elements they endured. As an example of this, at one point in the book The Jungle, Jurgis grew very angry with one of the boys in the house for being lazy and not having quite the work ethic he himself possessed. This drove the child to leave and never come back. It was assumed that children would work and provide for the family. Today, much has changed. Children still work, but as previously mentioned, they must be a certain age and even then, cannot work the hours and in the conditions of the past.
The amount of responsibility placed on children today is significantly lower than the children that were required to support their families. Children have a lot of free time today to enjoy their childhood and play. Children can play sports, shop, and have many freedoms that children of the past only dreamed of. I believe that children of the past were much worse off than children of today. They grew up too fast and were placed in predicaments that were very harmful to their well-being. They were not allowed to act like the immature children they were.
Children were much more illerate than those of today, which leads to very high illiteracy amongst adults. The way other people viewed the homeless and the unfortunate children is a lot different than those of today. I believe people in the past were much more insensitive to homeless and hungry children than people today would be if faced with the same environment. People today would be much more compassionate only for one reason, I believe, and that reason would be that he occurrence of it is much lower than it was in the past.
The more frequently it occurs, the more likely the people of the society are to turn their back. This is what is meant by the reluctant welfare state. At times, society is compassionate and committed to help those less fortunate, and at other times, society is very quick to turn their back on the same people they would have helped. I believe this to be true of the children of the past. Many solutions were proposed to help the children of the past. They came up with apprenticeships, in which young, poor children were made to work in turn for training to obtain a skill.
There were also indoor institutions, somewhat of a reformatory, in which they placed children that were incorrigible and it was somewhat of an orphanage crossed with a juvenile detention center. One of the major things of the past that society used to help children find families was called the Orphan Trains. The founder of this system, Charles Loring Brace, was appalled at the number of children that were homeless. He proposed a system in which young and unfortunate children were placed on trains and taken to other parts of the country, where they were distributed to whomever wanted them.
It was the early form of foster care. This worked in some cases, but not all. This exposed children to abuse and a form of slavery. Many children did find good homes, but I believe that many children suffered emotional distress from being separated from siblings and other family members since many of the children s parents were not dead, just too poor to take care of them. This type of system ended near the depression after many children had been placed in this system. Currently, there are many solutions to the problem with children.
Today we offer juvenile detention centers, meant for those children that are in violation of the law. We also have orphanages, which are rarely seen in the United States. We also provide services such as foster care, but the way most cases are, that is an unreliable source of care. The United States also provides adoption, which can be very expensive, which is why many families choose to adopt internationally before adopting here. Probably the most extensive form of help the government provides is welfare. Welfare helps children by helping their parents support them.
It provides money to those who cannot afford the basic necessities. Most of the time, the age of the child in need is a determining factor in where they are placed. There are places that we have in Alaska such as Covent House, which is where mid to late teenage children go if they do not have a home. Younger children are generally placed as a ward of the state in foster care instead of being left to find a place on their own. Few of these solutions help children as much as they may hurt them. I have many solutions that I propose would work to alleviate the problem but all of them must work together consistently.
First, I would obtain more money to hire more DFYS workers. It is disgusting and ridiculous that there is not enough funding to do this when each Alaskan gets close to $2000 for free every year. I think it is just absolutely astonishing that the one time that I ever had to call DFYS to report a case of child abuse, they told me the person that was handling those was busy and I would have to call them back later. To me, that is like telling people to call 911 back later because they are too busy. It is unbelievable!
Not only does that discourage people from reporting abuse, but also it puts children s lives in danger. So, my first step would be to hire more workers. Due to that change, there would be more workers to respond to these calls and therefore children would not be hurt due to backlog. After the step of going into the home and establishing that these children are abused, they need to have a safe place to put them until they place them in a permanent residence. At the present, I do not think there is a place to temporarily hold children. That would require more funding and also a staff of people to maintain it.
There would be a building like this in the major cities with different floors for different cases. For example, the children who were severely abused (in danger of hurting others or themselves) will be placed on floor one. The children, who are not in danger, floor two and so on. This building would require a lot of additional funding. After all these children are put in the home, places need to be found for them. This is the toughest step of all since most of the high-risk children need 24-hour surveillance and cannot be around other children.
The way to increase foster parents is the only thing I am unsure of. Maybe offer more money to those parents and offer adoption if wanted, so that way these kids they grow to love will not be snatched away, as they frequently are. There will never be enough foster parents for as many children, which is why one of the floors of the building I was talking about would be reserved for permanent residents. The children that stay would be required to go to school, allowed to hold jobs if of age, and lead a comparable life to those who had a family.
I also believe that the parents who are proved to be abusing their children should get their PFD revoked as long as they claim residency in Alaska to help pay for what his/her children will cost the state. That will help in funding also. I also think that parents who are proven to be abusing their children should have mandatory jail time and the penalty should be stiff. Child neglect is another issue altogether. Some parents cannot afford to support the children they have and therefore, have no choice but to neglect their children. This is where welfare steps in.
I believe that welfare is a good policy, if handed out correctly. I believe there should be stiffer rules to qualify such as mandatory drug testing every month and randomly in-between, requirements of birth control that the state will pay for (Planned Parenthood), and the random visits by welfare staff to the home. If for any reason they are in violation of any of these rules, they face losing all financial help and their children if they are in danger of neglect. This approach would require more staffing and dedication of those participating, but that is much needed.
This would cut down on some of the fraud of welfare privileges and also save the state more money to invest in the youth. And last but not least, education is the key. Education can solve many of the poverty and other social problems in our society. I think that the state should fund for those who are on public assistance to finish high school and attend classes at a university at a discounted price. Education is the key. The more people are educated, the less money we will spend on public assistance in the long run.
Also, people who are educated are less likely to abuse and neglect their children. I believe that in the beginning the state will have to spend more money than it would like. But after they climb over the hill, I believe things will become easier and cheaper for the state as well as the economy will definitely pick up. I believe that education is the key to success for any social welfare issue. If we could just convince people who are positions of power to support and realize that this is the answer, I believe that we could make social policies work and spend much less money.