How are the children?

My dad wrote a letter to the Edmonton Journal which was published on September 15, 2009.  I’m republishing it here because I couldn’t agree more with what he’s said – nice work, Dad!

The Masai tribe in Africa was considered to be one of the most fearsome and intelligent. Their traditional greeting was, “Kasserian ingera” which means, “and how are the children?” Even warriors without children would reply, “All the children are well,” meaning that their priorities of caring for the young and maintaining their society were in place.

A number of articles in The Journal recently make me wonder about our own society’s priorities.

In “Attack sickened prosecutors; Vicious beating of one girl by another drew attention to widespread street robberies” (Sept. 13), we are told that the response to this horrible assault has been to give the “hot spots” more police manpower.

Earlier, Bosco Homes has said it was closing its doors and Edmonton’s Boys and Girls clubs are reducing the number of staff due to government grant cancellations. Alberta’s schools are also looking at cutbacks and the province is taking back what little money some school boards had managed to save.

Although I appreciate the need to respond to crime with increased law enforcement and the need to educate using technology in today’s society, I feel that we have to place more of our resources into the care of our children.

In the ’70s, it was common practice to have counsellors in elementary schools. Now, children do not have access to a counsellor until junior high and in most cases that person is a part-time counsellor with the majority of his or her time spent teaching.

Edmonton has grown tremendously since the ’70s and with so have the number of children who require guidance.

It would be wonderful if all children had a stable family unit and secure upbringing, but it is naive to assume that this happens in all cases.

If we continue to cut the agencies which help those children, where will the children go, other than the streets? Do we want to become a society that must resort to constructing more detention centres and prisons to take care of the results of our ignoring the needs of our young people?

Can we honestly reply to “And how are the children?” with “All the children are well”?

Mark Edwards

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