Last week I asked you to respond to the question: What can we, as a community or individually, do to help children in dependency? I want to share with you some excerpts of the 60 responses I received.
A: Individually I think we all have to be more vigilant and get involved when it comes to children. When we see abuse, I think it is our duty to get involved. As a society, I think the pharmaceutical companies should somehow bear the cost of taking care of some of these children born addicted to drugs. I know this is a stretch, but prescription drugs are responsible for so many problems that we, as a society, are going to have to pay for. I would love to start a class action law suit for every child in dependency because of prescription drugs.
-- Robert Hupalo
A: As a community, we can advocate to ensure that the medical profession, pharmacies and drug manufacturers are held accountable for any indiscriminate use of painkillers, in order to reduce criminal activity and the addictions that can lead to neglect of children.
-- Donna Townsend
A: Establish a local transportation service dedicated to dependent children.
-- Tim Tedesco
A: These children have lost their parents in many cases, are emotionally in shock, worried about what's going to happen next, who's going to look after them, they have low self-esteem, and are very vulnerable to negative influences. They need a competent, caring adult to show up in their life, listen to them, show interest in them, in what they think, what they feel, understand their needs, concerns; encourage them, let them know you believe in them, so they can start believing in themselves. That's part of what Guardians ad litem do. If they have a Guardian ad litem, they are more likely to stay out of trouble, stay in school, graduate, get adopted, go onto college. A life saved.
-- Dick Hunt
A: As a community member, one can donate financially to The Children's Guardian Fund. This is a fund set up to ensure children in the dependency system have equal opportunity of having nor
mal activities and/or items in their life (such as attending summer camp or having a new backpack for school). If a person knows of a family currently involved in the dependency system, it is also important to support parents who have had to relinquish their kids to the care of others. Keeping in mind that the best place for a child is with their parents, sometimes supporting these adults so they can regain custody is the best way to improve the lives of the children.
-- Star Denslow
A: Be patient and understanding. What we need to realize is a lot of these children are experiencing types of abuse, be it emotional or physical, that we could never dream of encountering, and while we might not understand why this has happened to a child, we do need to accept the fact that it has and be patient with children as they try to move on from their tragedies.
-- Cassie Friedman
A: There is a little known form of abuse and it is called "community abuse." It occurs when the community (the state) fails to make adequate resources available to serve the needs of children. The cuts in funding are hurting our children and I consider these cuts to be a form of abuse. By failing to address these needs we are producing the next generation of offenders, drug users, and school dropouts, thus perpetuating the cycle.
-- Rich Cannarelli
A: The community should have placement options for teenagers.
-- Candice Miller
A: Once we have assured the health, safety and welfare of the child, I think that we should do more to help the parents improve their situation. Maybe they need a GED, or some technical training.
-- Ed Johnson
Pam Hindman, director of the Guardian ad Litem program for the 12th Judicial Circuit, writes this weekly column for the Herald. Readers who have questions for "ASK the GAL" about child abuse, foster care, child protection, adoption, or who might be interested in learning more how to become a GAL volunteer can e-mail Pam at firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to her at Guardian ad Litem Program, 1051 Manatee Ave. W., Hensley Wing, Suite 330, Bradenton 34205.