This past spring I was biking to work, and saw something that I had never quite seen, but in the back of my mind, I knew it was happening, but I was living in my bubble, enjoying life….
A couple, homeless, folding up their stuff and rising off the ground, as my bike continued to move forward, something came into view that broke my heart, the couple’s teenage daughter (or middle schooler) was dusting herself off, putting on her back pack and preparing to go to school. I instantly broke into tears, my mind racing with thoughts.
I love riding my bike because it exposes me to the world, better than any car ride, you see all the beautiful scenery, animals, so up close and personal; and it’s sweet and enjoyable. However, this particular access to the world is very hard to bear, and brought a cruel reality of juvenile homelessness. Going to middle and high school is hard enough being a regular kid, as my mind continued to race, I imagined being homeless and trying to go to school, crying harder and harder, almost to the point of uncontrollable sobs. The frivolous and care-free life of a child, she could and would not experience. If you educated yourself about that the plight of juvenile homelessness, you would learn that a large number of kids who don’t even have a family with them.
So why I am talking about this, I mean clearly this isn’t another post about how people don’t care. I mean if you were to ask the average person, they would care about homeless children on the street, right? They would care and have some sort of emotion, maybe even a strong emotional reaction, except the most heartless of Americans. What amazes me is the lack of initiative towards an issue that a solution to some degree could at least reduce homelessness amongst children. This solution would be more attainable than say a number of other issues. We still choose to argue about abortion and rape, gun control, and healthcare. Issues such as these have been decided (and based on they way America is looking, are not changing anytime soon).
But issues that often go under the radar, unfortunately, are the ones that warrant a real discussion, because at least to some degree, there is a level of agreement. Chris Christie recently had a talk about drug addiction, just an example of a issue that is often under the radar, when almost 10% of Americans are addicted to drugs. (source) There are local governments; prosecutors trying their best to fight the ills of drug use frequently, if not daily, but on a larger scale, no one is talking about a solution, in the sense the “War on Drugs” is occurring more regionally than nationally. And that might not necessarily be a bad thing. But In the Midwest, and many southern states, such as Kentucky, where pain pills crack down has only increased the use of heroin exponentially. (source)
But I’m going to stop right there, there are a TON of programs specifically targeted to drug users and abusers. In fact, drug addiction is a tricky disease to overcome, because let’s say two people come from the same parents, and live in the same environment, one may be able to kick the habit and the other not at all.
So if drug addiction, although serious, goes under the radar, yet there is still more money and programs going to combat it, why aren’t we focusing more on kids? The most fragile of all. On September 23, 2014, the U.S. Department of Education released a report “about homelessness among U.S. public school students and showed that it is not only on the rise, it has hit a record high: 1.3 million children were identified as homeless in the 2012-2013 school year, an 8% increase from the year before.” (Source)
And the next part isn’t any better, the 1.3 million homeless children do not account for the infants and toddlers that are too young to be counted. Yet, we are not doing anything about it. The challenges homeless children face, like the girl I witnessed, have a very high drop out rate of 75%. And to add icing on the cake, the world is watching, the “U.N. declared that America’s treatment of homelessness “raises concerns of discrimination and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment,” (Source)
Yeah, it really is a problem. And this is an area where we could have consensus. That is right, C O N S E N S U S, which means general agreement or concord; harmony!!! But we choose disagreement, we often enjoy topics that avoid consensus. Politico just published an article about Republicans AND Democrats feeding off of each other’s pessimism for this election season and it’s making a huge difference in fundraising, the more of it the better. Why not? When pessimism is selling (or fundraising) let’s keep it rolling. (source) . If we worked on an issue such as child homelessness, we could bring positivity and hope to a segment of the population who have few options. We can’t expect homeless children to be able to fight for themselves. Now I am not necessarily saying we would all agree on how to tackle issues such a juvenile homelessness, but what happened to fixing issues being the most important thing. And as stated earlier, no one is for juvenile homelessness, its just that no one is for doing anything about it. So the idea of building consensus continues to go… under the radar