By ELIZABETH BASTIAN, Managing Editor
In the most recent presidential debate, Mitt Romney placed the burden of reducing the American “culture of violence” on parents. According to his answer to a question concerning the availability of AK-47s and other assault rifles, those who are raised in a household with two parents are less likely to live in poverty and have increased ability to “achieve.”
Addressing Nina Gonzalez, Romney agreed with Obama about enhancing education, following this up by exclaiming “But gosh, to tell our kids that before they have babies they ought to think about getting married to someone, that’s a great idea.”
In an ideal world, every child would grow up in a safe, loving, home with two parents and a stable income. But this is not an ideal world. Two parents households have declined from 85% in 1970 to 65% in 2011, and the percentages are even lower for minority families.
It is hard to look at statistics and dispute that kids raised by two parents have better health, do better in school, and possess better social skills. I am not going to argue that. But can you really blame the parents all that much? When a parent is faced with the choice of working long hours to feed and clothe their child, or to stay at home and do homework with them and go hungry, what do you think they would choose? For most families, especially single moms or dads who have to support themselves and their kids, working more than one job is almost necessary when wages are low and cost of living is so high. There are way too many complexities to Romney’s argument that kids should be raised by two adults. It’s not that simple.
So these kids are home by themselves while their parents are working, and have too much time on their hands. Does this lead to an interest in gang violence? Perhaps. So why not increase after-school programs? Why not pay teachers more so that some of them can stay after school? Why not fund more non-profits who provide places for children to go after school? Again, the blame cannot be placed on parents who are trying to feed their families. The educational system is flawed, and needs to be remedied.
Then there is foster care, which is, in my eyes, a horribly formatted American system that often gets ignored. You want more two parent households? How about starting by reforming social services? Make the regulations tighter, engage more people into getting involved in the system. And for the love of God, keep an eye on these kids so that abuse doesn’t happen! Violence is cyclical and often a learned behavior. Those who receive it, will give it back. Take care of these kids by ensuring they are with good people who want them and will care for them, not couples who are in it for the money and will withhold food from innocents.
And for that matter, why not let homosexual couples adopt more children? Several states have passed bills barring same-sex couples from not only getting married, but from adopting kids who need a good home. Several studies have shown that children raised in a gay or lesbian household do NOT “turn gay”, and are often better off than kids raised by heterosexual couples. Why? In a country where over half (yes, 50%) of pregnancies are unplanned and/or unwanted, homosexual couples want these kids. They plan for them, they prepare for them, they save for them. It blows my mind that governments all over America are closing their doors to these people who genuinely want to provide a safe haven for unwanted children. Clearly, the welfare of children is not the major concern here.
Yes, Romney, telling kids and teens to wait until marriage to have babies is “a great idea.” But on that note, so is contraceptive care. So is sexual education that does not just teach abstinence. So is making the “morning-after pill” more accessible to women and girls. Get to the source of the problem instead of continually debating about more gun regulation.
Romney seems to say a lot without really thinking through the words coming out of his mouth. There are even more aspects of this argument that I have not explored here. It is statements like this that only serve to further frustrate me about the lack of social concern in America. Whether or not the Second Amendment is relevant in the modern USA should not be the focus, so much as problems such as the much-needed raising of the poverty line or the ceasing of adoption discrimination.
The source of the problems is being ignored, and the results are being dealt with. Can’t anyone else see how inefficient and ineffective this is?