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Readers Respond

Bad parenting as big a challenge as child poverty | READER COMMENTARY

Last Monday’s editorial page was full of discussion about the problems of child poverty and possible ways of ameliorating it including Mayor Brandon Scott’s guaranteed income plan (“Baltimore’s ‘guaranteed income’ pilot program: Readers weigh in on the mayor’s plan to give 200 low-income families $1,000 a month”). Naturally, as some level of poverty is unavoidable, virtually all solutions propose providing financial assistance. However, in addressing this problem, it is time we look at the child aspect. No child is unavoidable; every child is a result of a decision made by its parents. Too many children are born into environments that are toxic. Almost exactly three years ago, these very editorial pages witnessed the tragedy of Dawnta Harris, who was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Police Officer Amy Caprio, as just one of countless examples.

This is not about race. It is about economics. It is not about gender (other than what Mother Nature designed). Men and women share participation. It is about the values our community embraces.

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To say that everyone has the right to procreate is correct. Is it also correct to say that every child has a right to a decent opportunity in life? If not, we should say so and accept the consequences, however, if so, then it is time we act that way. Our social system must unequivocally discourage “irresponsible parenting.” And, most assuredly, providing adequate financial support and a “home” are part of a parent’s responsibilities. If we are serious about the welfare of our youth, we must change our attitudes and our actions. Do we need new laws, new policies, new procedures or simply more effective enforcement mechanisms?

This aspect of the topic should be considered in addition to, not instead of, the financial support proposals. It is every bit as important to addressing the societal cost of child poverty so well identified in The Baltimore Sun.

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— Michael MacKay, Lutherville

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