It takes a village to raise a child – so we’re told.
If it’s true, then the American “village” is doing a perfectly awful job of it.
You see the evidence of that all around you – and we discussed what societal ills the local criminal justice system observes in a Feb. 24 editorial (“What the courts see”). More recently, we’ve seen a brutal head-bashing attack on a couple on Augusta’s Riverwalk May 3 – and the shooting death of barber and father-to-be Zannie Worrell in a May 18 robbery at his Beech Island shop.
Each of the two horrific crimes allegedly occurred at the hands of what have to be considered feral beasts.
You have to wonder what kind of society spawns such creatures that have such little regard for human life.
Well, again, our friends on the front lines of the criminal justice system needn’t wonder. They see the problem every day, and they have a fairly good fix on the primary cause:
Or the lack thereof.
As it turns out, it doesn’t take a village. It takes a family.
Federal Judge Randy Hall recently gave something of a landmark speech to the Augusta Kiwanis Club, which was printed in The Augusta Chronicle’s May 16 Richmond County Neighbors section. Hall spoke of “the total disintegration of the American family over the last 50 years, and the devastating economic and social costs associated with this trend.
“Folks, I have been actively involved in child advocacy in this community for over 25 years. I can honestly say that, in my opinion, this is the definitive child issue of our generation.”
Hall noted that in 1965 – before the implementation of the “Great Society” – 24 percent of black babies and 3.1 percent of whites were born to unwed mothers; today, those numbers are 73 and 29.
Certainly single parenthood isn’t singularly responsible for the breeding of young toughs. Worrell, the slain barber, was the upstanding product of a single mom.
But there can be no doubt that the batting average is lower in single-parent homes – and, indeed, the statistics bear that out.
“Single-parent families are more than four times as likely as two-parent households to be in poverty,” Hall said. “Research shows that children born into a single-parent household have low academic achievement, higher school dropout rates, much higher rates of criminal activity, drug use, incarceration, death and welfare use. A very high incidence of child abuse and neglect also plagues these homes. A study from the late 1990s revealed that a higher percentage of single-parent families with children in a neighborhood results in higher rates of violent crimes and burglary.”
And, from his own experience, he said, “Over 90 percent of the defendants that I have sentenced over the last five years have been reared outside of a normal two-parent family.”
Whereas years ago single parenthood carried with it a societal stigma – holding the incidence of it down – today unwed births are not only considered normal, Hall said, but “I am horrified to frequently encounter pride (among single mothers) over their offspring numbers.”
Judge Hall, too, doesn’t blame single motherhood in general. He lived for a time in a single-mother household himself.
What he does sound the alarm about is “the reckless creation of multiple innocent children by men and women without regard to their ability to provide for the economic, social, spiritual and parental needs of those children.”
As evidence, the judge proffered the case of “a 27-year-old man, with seven children by five different mothers, none of whom he ever married. The only reason that he did not have more children is because he had spent a number of years incarcerated. The first child, he told me proudly, was conceived when he was 14 years old and the mother was 18.”
He adds the case of a 26-year-old man “with six children by four different mothers, none of whom he married. In his case, two of his children were born on the same day to two different women.”
Often, the mothers never seek court-ordered child support – and perhaps for good reason. “I regularly see men in their 20s who have never held an actual job,” Hall said – noting that they nonetheless “have cheerfully created multiple children for which they have no intention of being responsible for their upbringing or marrying their mothers.”
Hall suggests, as a first step, not “shooting the messengers” who point out these problems or possible solutions – such as Bill Cosby and Dr. Ben Carson. That’s a tall order in itself: The media promote an anything-goes, none-of-your-business lifestyle. Even while they promulgate the myth that it takes a village to raise a child, they try to prevent the village from speaking up. We’re expected to pay our taxes and shut up, never questioning where our money is going or how responsible its recipients are being with it.
All this has happened despite massive government spending that is leaving our children with a legacy of debt.
The village has had its chance.
It’s time for the parents to step up and do their job.