From the Editor
The Future of Children

By Joan M. Burda

Welcome to the child welfare and juvenile justice issue of GPSolo. First, a disclaimer: I do not have children. Don’t have ’em, never wanted ’em. During medical exams, when asked if I could be pregnant, my standard response is “Not unless you’ve seen a star in the East.”

I always knew I wouldn’t make a very good parent. I recognized my limitations early on. That said, let it be known that I am one heck of an aunt. Nathan wants to eat cold pizza or ice cream for breakfast? Why not? Patrick wants to stay up all night watching a South Park marathon? Be my guest, as long as I don’t have to watch it with you. One thing about being an aunt is you get to send the kiddies home after a while. They might be on a sugar high and sleep deprived, but, hey, not my problem.

I do not pretend to know what it’s like to be a parent, but I do see my share of people who should never have kids. Most children are born to or adopted by parents who want only the best for them. Other children are saddled with parents who could not care less about them.

Frankly, I think most people do not like children. I think most people find kids annoying. When they are infants, they cry all the time. As toddlers, they’re just sticky, all the time. Then they become young children (whiners) turning into pre–adolescents (irritating) and finally: teenagers (obnoxious)! Adults ask, “what’s wrong with kids these days?” I heard that as a kid, and I resented it then. Now, we’re the ones giving the “when I was your age” speech.

“We worry about what a child will become tomorrow, yet we forget that he is someone today.” When I first saw that quote from author Stacia Tauscher, I thought about a young man and a football game. Derrick was 14 and had received two tickets to a Cleveland Browns football game for doing well in school. He was beyond excited. It would be his first professional game, and the Browns were doing well. The only thing he needed was someone to take him. His father said “no” and so did his stepsister’s dad. Derrick’s uncle agreed to take him but then decided to stay home and play cards with his friends. Derrick ended up watching the Browns on television, with the unused tickets in his pocket. I get angry whenever I think of that kid and the football game. What lesson did Derrick learn? What lesson did the adults in his life teach him?

Children are the responsibility of every adult—the “it takes a village” theme. We owe them. Too often decisions are made without any thought given to how they will affect children. Recently, two brothers, aged eight and six, brought that point home. The older boy was afraid they’d be moved to a new foster home. He overheard the adults talking about him and figured the move was coming. His solution was to steal a car and run away. They got a half–mile before crashing into a tree. Although neither was injured, the eight–year–old’s fears came true. He will be moved because of what he did. If the adults involved had just talked to him, told him he was not going anywhere, the outcome could have been different.

We treat children as adults when they make mistakes, sometimes horrible mistakes. But what of the kid who has had no guidance from any responsible person? How can we say to an 11–year–old, “You will spend the rest of your life in prison because of what you did,” when that kid was never taught the difference between right and wrong? We’ve decided that too many of these kids are throwaways, not worthy of our time or effort. When we bring children into the world, we owe them every chance at a good life. Anything less and we are hypocrites. Anything less and we had better find another way to talk about “family values” and “family–friendly” policies.

I hope you find this issue interesting and enlightening. Larry Ramirez was the issue editor, and he did a wonderful job of finding authors who fill these pages with their insight.

Now, look back to when you were younger, even if it’s only last week. Is there anything you wanted to do before you die? Anything you still dream about? Well, we want to know what is in your “bucket list.” E-mail me or our staff guru Rob Salkin with your response. We plan to run the results in the July/August issue of GPSolo. And, please, don’t ask to remain anonymous. Show everyone where your dreams lie. Me? I want to live abroad for at least a year. Let me know what you’re thinking. Reach me at jmburda@mac.com. You can reach Rob Salkin at salkinr@staff.abanet.org.

We are always looking for people to write the articles for GPSolo. If you’re interested in being published and find a topic from an upcoming issue that you want to write on, e-mail Rob Salkin and me. Women and persons of color are encouraged to contact us. Upcoming issue themes include “The Small Issue,” “Animal Law,” and “Bumps in the Road IV.” 

Joan M. Burda, editor-in-chief of GPSOLO, operates a solo practice in Lakewood, Ohio, and may be reached at .

Copyright 2008

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