SOCIAL CAUSE CALENDAR i.:% ” , ‘T’-‘ .’, \\.4 . e..Z. ,N 12 6 k k’t ;.s 1/4 x .t… , , ” 121 ` ‘S \\\\\\*. \\’, *02 tik ‘ f? .!` “:::::A?`*:,;, ‘mothers rather, than _being placed in orphanages. Still other signs of stress have appeared. As unemployment and poverty have increased, and as welfare programs from poverty have been cut, child abuse has increased. Abuse and neglect are indicators that stress within families has reached the breaking point, and poverty, unemployment, and poor housing are among the most important sources of stress. Of the 29 states with official abuse and neglect data, 21 reported increased abuse in 1982, with some evidence that the severity of abuse also increased. Reports from Michigan, Wisconsin, and Oregon suggested that the increase in abuse was greater in counties that experienced the worst unemployment, like areas in Michigan hit by recession in the automobile industry. At the same time, 32 states reported significant reductions in child abuse programs because of federal cutbacks. In January of 1982 Ronald Reagan declared that “there has not been a cut in the overall spending on human resources.” Later that spring, in response to charges that his administration had been unfair, he declared that “It is time to expose once and for all the fairy tale that we are somehow overall cutting the federal budget,” pointing out that the fiscal year 1983 budget would be $32 billion larger than the 1982 budget. He failed to mention that social programs had in fact been cut, but that defense spending and interest on the national debt increased by $47 billion and more than offset reductions in social spending. In his State of the Union address in January 1984, President Reagan claimed that “our children come first” just one month before his 1985 budget proposed yet another round of cuts in AFDC, foster care, summer jobs, and higher education grants. The treatment of children over the past four years has shown a disregard for the future. The real consequences of increasing poverty, reducing nutrition and health programs, and cutting education spending won’t surface for another fifteen years. In these and in many other policies the escalation of the arms race with Russia, the weakening of environmental protections, the alarming deficits the policies of the Reagan administration have generated hidden costs and postponed these costs to future generations. This is a strange form of conservatism, not one that conserves the past but one that reverses the gains of the recent past at the expense of the future. The current generation of children are the ones who will bear the burden. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 29
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