Where is the Outrage for OUR Kids?

Yesterday (8/20/07) I was watching CNN’S program, “The Situation Room.” One segment of the program is, “The Cafferty Files.” It is a segment where correspondent Jack Cafferty describes a situation and then asks a question for viewers to respond to via Email. He then reads some of the responses towards the end of each hour of the program.

One of his segments yesterday dealt with the “Michael Vick Case and his decision to plead guilty to his recent indictment in regards to dog fighting. Jack’s question was, “What should be Vick’s punishment?”

I sat in total anger as I listened to Cafferty go on and on about his anger, his outrage and how he was appalled that someone would hold these dog fights and when a dog lost it would be killed either by drowning, hanging, electrocution or shot. One could almost see Cafferty’s bulging veins of anger in his temples and he continued to rage about the subject before finally asking the question.

The response from the public was as anger filled as Cafferty’s rant. The suggested punishment ranged from prison to things I cannot write in this blog.

Of course the media has been following this story from the start. People have responded many times in the same manner as Cafferty. When Vick first appeared in court PETA as well as many others demonstrated outside the court hurling insults and many expletives Vick’s way as he entered the courtroom.

Bear in mind I am an animal lover. What Vick did is absolutely appalling, sickening and reprehensible and he should be punished, along with his co-defendants, to the fullest extent of the law.

However as I watched Cafferty and then listened to the Emails being read I had to ask the question; “Where is the Outrage for Our Kids?”

Where is the outrage from Cafferty and the public when a child is abused, neglected or killed by parents that are suppose to provide them shelter, nurturing and love?

Where is the outrage of Cafferty and the public when in case after case those responsible for the above actions are never punished yet alone ever charged?

Where is the outrage from Cafferty and the public when our child welfare system continues to fail the youth put under their care, who may suffer as much abuse, neglect or death as with their biological parents, in a supposed system of temporary foster care? Over 12 million youth, over the years, have graduated from our foster care system.

Where is the outrage from Cafferty and the public when there are more than half a million children and youth in the U.S. foster care system today, a 90% increase since 1987 but only 170,000 licensed foster homes are available?

Where is the outrage of Cafferty when 120,000 youths have had their parents parental rights terminated and are eligible for adoption but continues to languish within the system as “legal orphans?”

Where is the outrage from Cafferty and the public when 20,000 youths each year, who may have spent years within the system experiencing numerous unwarranted moves, emotional, physical or mental damage, suddenly reaches the age of 18 and ages out of the system whether they have the tools necessary to make it on their own or not?

It appears that Cafferty and we as a society in general get more outraged when an animal is abused, neglected or killed than we do when a child suffers the same fate!

Dogs and other animals are our pets and yes they should be properly cared for and we should be appalled when actions by Vick or others happen.

Children suffering the same fate deserve so much more. These children are OUR children, whether they are of our flesh and blood or not. What happens to them will determine the future of our society as they are our future.

Every child deserves to receive stability, nurturing, shelter/food and love. We should ALL BE OUTRAGED when we know even ONE CHILD does not receive what they are entitled to but rather are abused, neglected or even killed. The outrage should not last just for a day or two when a story may be in the headlines but should be everyday as long as ONE CHILD suffers! “Children in foster care, like all our children, deserve the opportunity for a bright future,” said Jerry Stermer, president of Voices for Illinois Children. “We all share responsibility for making sure these children – who are removed from their families through no fault of their own – have the love and support they need to succeed in life.”

A few pieces of information that really bring home the point:

A recent study has found that 12-18 months after leaving foster care:

30% of the nation’s homeless are former foster children.
27% of the males and 10% of the females had been incarcerated
33% were receiving public assistance
37% had not finished high school
2% receive a college degree
50% were unemployed
*Casey Family Programs National Center for Resource Family Support

Children in foster care are three to six times more likely than children not in care to have emotional, behavioral and developmental problems, including conduct disorders, depression, difficulties in school and impaired social relationships. Some experts estimate that about 30% of the children in care have marked or severe emotional problems. Various studies have indicated that children and young people in foster care tend to have limited education and job skills, perform poorly in school compared to children who are not in foster care, lag behind in their education by at least one year, and have lower educational attainment than the general population.
*Casey Family Programs National Center for Resource Family Support

80 percent of prison inmates have been through the foster care system.
*National Association of Social Workers

Foster youth do have the potential for greatness; just because they are a foster kid doesn’t mean they are a lost cause!

To have the above results outrage such as Cafferty’s and the public’s over the Vick case MUST BE directed towards those who abuse, neglect or kill our children as well as those  who are given the responsibility to care for those of our children who suffer these atrocities. Those responsible for such actions must be held accountable!

Foster youth are our kids. They are our neighbors, our children’s schoolmates, and our family members.  They are part of our communities, and they need their communities to stand up, be outraged and be involved in helping them reach their potential and grow up into successful adults, who in turn make significant contributions to their communities.

As a person who grew up in foster care, survived and prospered despite the system I know what confronts  youth who are abused or neglected whether by their biological parents or the system themselves who are charged with their care.

If nothing changes… by the year 2020:

Nearly 14 million more reported cases of child abuse and neglect will be confirmed;

22,500 children will die of abuse or neglect, most before their fifth birthday;

An additional 9,000,000 children will spend some time in foster care

300,000 more children will age out of our foster care system unprepared to become productive members of our socety

99,000 former foster youth, who aged out of the system, will experience homelessness.

Somewhere out there in America– right now, today — there is a child abused, neglected or in foster care staring up at the ceiling or off into the distance thinking they are worthless because the people around them don’t have the sense to know that they are worthy:

Worthy of being loved.
Worthy of being cared for.
Worth of being protected.
Worth of being sheltered from harm.
Worthy of being allowed toreach their fullest potential.

We MUST change this thinking; We’ve got to do it for this OUR child, our society and our future!

Each of us MUST be outraged, motivated and caring individuals willing to contribute to our local child welfare system as well as reforming it- if not as adoptive or foster parents, perhaps as mentors, tutors or advocates. In this way, we can all take our share of responsibility in ensuring the lifetime success of these often-forgotten and voiceless young people.

Let’s get OUTRAGED!

http://www.larrya.us (web site)

UPDATE 8/22/07

An E mail has been sent to Jack Cafferty with a copy of this blog entry. It will be intersting if he will give me the courtesy of a reply or may address the issue of OUR KIDS in one of his commentaries/questions on the Situation Room. I will update this entry if he does or does not!

2nd Update 08/30/07: I at this point can only assume that Cafferty is more outraged over the abuse of dogs than he is children since I have not even got the courtesy of a reply from him nor has he mentyioned the issue on a segment of Cafferty File since.