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Can We Help Neglected Children?

Posted on 12/2/2010 by |AARP Blog Author | Comments

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I was in the AARP lunchroom yesterday with a colleague and talk turned to social services, and how extensive a role they should play in trying to augment – or in some cases provide – the love and nurturing that infants, toddlers and children should be getting directly from their parents.
I argued (and research supports this view) that kids who grow up without a full suite of love, support and nurture are more likely to have low self esteem and thus be more susceptible to fall in with ill behaved people and, eventually, become part of the crime cycle. A 2009 report by the non-profit group Jumpstart showed that an alarming percentage of children from the lowest-income homes in the U.S. entered first grade two years behind their peers – and never caught up. Too many of those kids will, at best, underachieve and, at worst, default to the only “cliques” in their communities in which they find acceptance – the drug and crime gangs.
For more discussion of early childhood development, check out Reginald Williams’ excellent blog.
My colleague said, in effect, that some people are going to end up bad regardless of how much coddling and nurturing they get in early life and that we cannot expect social services to pick up all that slack.
I agree with her last point, which brings us to the crux of this post: What are some entrepreneurial models that would bring organizations into the communities most in need of help? That is, what can as a society do outside of government to help people who otherwise start life with a grossly unfair disadvantage? And what would motivate you – in terms of structure, mission or other factors – to volunteer to help children get the love and attention they need?