|HERE'S NOTHING LIKE a political year to bring every possible cure out of the woodwork for every social and economic ill that befalls American society. If America has a problem, there is a politician promising us a political cure to fix it.|
Children in America are going to school without breakfast. So politicians fixed this problem years ago by funding a national breakfast program -- a fix that only works, as school nurses can tell you, for the parents who manage to get their children to school early enough to eat before the bell rings.
Children in Arizona today are waiting for taxpayers to vote on funding free pre-kindergarten health screenings for children up to the age of five. Backers of this ballot initiative "contend that they are only responding to the reality of inadequate parenting."
A current gubernatorial candidate proposes to fix high dropout rates ... with a law extending the dropout age to 18. This supposedly will fix the problem of aimless young people who lack the education and skills to help them become productive citizens.
At the other end of the spectrum, the same candidate has already put into place full-day kindergartens that keep young children away from home ... and their mothers and fathers. This is supposed to fix the problem of parents who do not have the time, money, or interest in teaching their children the basics of learning and living that used to be taught ... and learned ... at home.
Around the country, mandatory sentencing laws have been passed to hand out stiff penalties to criminals, restoring safe streets and neighborhoods. But this week in Hamilton County Juvenile Court in Ohio, Judge Thomas Lipps is delaying sentencing of a 15-year-old bank robber. The "child" was convicted of aggravated robbery with a gun that netted $5,000 used to buy drugs and toys for her and her adult companions.
Deliberating over "what is best for society and what is best for her," Judge Lipps may choose for the "child" either prison time, remanding to the legal guardian, her grandmother; or assignment to a mental-health program. Each of these options has been carefully crafted by politicians over the years as a "fix" for out-of-control teens.
And when these out-of-control teens graduate to being out-of-control adults, an entire system of prisons and third-strike-you're-out, no-release jail sentences attempt to bring a final solution to the whole mess ...
... the whole mess, that is, except for the young children left behind, with fathers and mothers in prison. Returning full-circle to where we began, these children will receive the dollars raining down from social programs intended to fix the fixes that didn't work for the parents they don't have because there's a hole in the dike.
It might be hopeless except for the dedication of a class of politicians who understand that fixing the problems of society must go deeper than throwing money at the results of the problem. We must look to the roots of the disease and plant our trees in better soil.
The once-common understanding that secure homes are best built on the healthy, caring marriages of mothers and fathers rearing children together to become healthy, productive adults ... this understanding is now being reinforced with a wide body of research that should be a wakeup call to politicians and voters alike.
We improve the lives of children when we build a social structure that reinforces healthy marriages.
We improve the lives of children when we teach them that the sex that produces babies belongs inside a healthy marriage where a mother and father are committed to each other and to their family.
We improve the lives of children when they understand that long before teen pregnancy becomes a problem, teen sex is the bigger problem that threatens their health and well-being ... physically, socially, emotionally, and financially.
In every way that benefits children, programs and policies that support a restoration of healthy marriages and sexual abstinence for adolescents need to become the measure of a good politician with a plan that will truly make a difference in breaking the cycle of "problems that need fixing."
Before you vote, be sure to ask your politicians ... what problems are you fixing ... and how? If they cannot give enthusiastic support to policies aimed at strengthening marriage and promoting sexual abstinence, this is a sure sign that your hard-earned taxpayer money will end up hanging on the dead branches of a tree with rotting roots.
A former elementary school teacher, Jane Jimenez (firstname.lastname@example.org) is now a freelance writer dedicated to issues of importance to women and the family. She writes a regular column titled "From the Home Front." Her work has appeared in both Christian and secular publications. Jane and her husband Victor live in Phoenix and have two children.
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