It feels like children are vanishing into the fears of their parents and out of sight with each rising sun.
Please search the faces of the youngsters you pass on the streets for these kids.
In and out of the office, I am a Mandated Child Abuse Reporter. This sucks. I see many questionable things in and out of the office and I feel terrible reporting parents – but occasionally I feel worse for the kids.
Last week I met a little girl who had no teeth. Correction, she had stubs of teeth but the rest looked like they had literally rotted out of her mouth and broken off. It was painful to look at her.
1. Wash your children before you take them in public. This includes their hair, teeth and nails and especially ears.
2. The same goes for their clothing. Try to make their outfits seasonably appropriate and clean (as clean as they can be on dirt loving rug rat – I know, I know)
3. Feed your children before you bring them to the Welfare office or anywhere, really. Try to pack snacks and a drink as well. I have had kids cry when they walked past my lunchroom because they were starving while smelling food. (I keep food at my desk, just for this reason).
4. Don’t leave children in the car on hot days – even with another child or adult with them. Bring them into the building you are visiting.
5. Do not hit your children or threaten them within eyesight or my earshot. I have dialed the child abuse hotline and just handed the phone to the kid while Mom or Dad sat looking bewildered. Seriously.
6. Parent. Wild kids running down the halls and drawing on walls and begging for attention from other adults is always a clear give away that you are not shaping people, you are raising a wild animal. Get this parenting in before you bring them out. We all know when you are trying discipline for the first time because both you and your child betray you. I am not the parent here, I will let your child lick the electrical outlet – but first I will alert you to the danger your kid is in. You cannot pass your job off onto other folks.
7. Love your children and appear concerned for their present and future.
It is hard to think about homelessness and childhood. It is almost so painful that we just don’t think about it.
Being “homeless” is still viewed as a grown man’s problem. It is an epidemic in our Veterans or issue regarding the adults who sleep in the bus stops.
But the truth is that Homelessness is an individual reality that is also equal opportunity. It strikes all age groups and cultures and is on the rise in women with children.
For the rest of the week – when you think about someone being homeless – please think about my 5-year-old friend in the picture. Think about the talk she and I had yesterday when she told me that her house was a car and all she will ask Santa for is a bed this Christmas.