The world recently lost one of the most profound voices of our time, Toni Morrison. This Nobel laureate and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom once said, “When a child walks in the room, your child or anybody else’s child, do your eyes light up? That’s what they’re looking for.” Toni Morrison knew and understood that there was no such thing as other people’s children.
Recent months have brought one example after another of atrocities inflicted on children in this country. Children separated from their parents at the border, a pharmaceutical company charging $2 million for a drug that can save a child’s life, workplace immigration raids leaving children with no idea where their parents are, and mass shootings resulting in children without parents and parents without children have been all over the news. We cannot simultaneously be the nation that espouses the belief that we’ll do anything to help children but also allow these atrocities to continue. There is no such thing as other people’s children.
You don’t have to read the national news to understand this to be true; right here in our local communities are children who need us all to care a little bit more. Understanding the needs of the children around us can help us to build more empathy and create a healthier community for all.
Family separation isn’t just happening at the southern border, it’s happening right here in our local communities due to parental incarceration. There are currently around 8,000 inmates in Washington state prisons with one or more minor children. Incarcerated parents are most often dependent upon their children’s caregivers to help them parent their children from prison and they face numerous barriers to access meaningful visits. Current laws even allow the state and other family members to prevent reunification of parent and children after incarceration ends. Caring for these families and advocating for their well-being can help ensure successful reunification, increase family stability long-term, and improve public safety.
Right here on the Key Peninsula we have families struggling to provide adequate medical care for their children. The care these children need may not be as complicated as a $2 million drug treatment, but it is just as vital. There are nearly 15,000 residents on the Key Peninsula and far fewer primary care doctors than the national standard of one doctor to every 3,000 people. Access to high quality primary care for children is one indicator of a community’s overall health and a predictor of a child’s physical and mental well-being for years to come. Supporting initiatives aimed at increasing access to medical care, such as the Key Peninsula Free Clinic, is a simple way to ensure children in our area are both healthier and happier.
You don’t have to look far to see both the needs of children and the potential they possess. Our communities are better off when we care for all and we understand that there is no such thing as other people’s children.
Meredith Browand is a mother and an activist who lives in Purdy.
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