The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Children's deaths come from political choices

Jun 7, 2004

A 17-year old Baltimore woman and her boyfriend have been charged with killing their month-old twins. The babies and the parents were living in the basement of an abandoned building without electricity or toilets. The young woman herself was a run-away from a foster home. She has been accused of using drugs and neglecting a child she had when she was only 14 years old.

Her story resembles that of dozens of other poor young mothers, often abused or on drugs, who end up neglecting, harming or actually killing babies they were too young to have in the first place. Her life is an exact description of poverty in capitalist society, a society too cheap and heartless to use its resources for the needs of the most vulnerable.

Poor families face enormous problems of where they will live, how they will pay the gas and electric, how they can help their children at school, how to pay for day care or medicines or shoes or diapers. Even those poor families with a working parent cannot make ends meet. From such conditions come run-away teens who try drugs and sex without birth control. From such conditions come new generations of abused children who can hardly make it through the miserable conditions, poor schooling and low-wage jobs, which are all this society offers them.

And the very government agencies supposedly set up to protect children at risk, are given no money with which to do it. In one year, Maryland state workers had 33,000 incidents of child abuse to investigate. A continued hiring freeze has prevented county departments from hiring the child welfare case workers recommended. A national welfare organization says the state has 200 fewer workers than it needs, just for child welfare.

Those dealing with these terrible problems cannot possibly get through the work loaded on them. In one county where child investigation services are doing three times as many cases as is recommended, there is a 25% vacancy rate. In Maryland's second wealthiest county, there are only three people to handle almost 800 applications for food stamps and medical assistance every single month. Two other counties show staffing down by almost a third over the last three years.

There are too few people to handle too many results of poverty. This government puts the interests of capitalist society, which engenders such poverty, before the interests of children.