By Eric Stradford
AMWS, May 23, 2013, Atlanta -- As a seminarian, Ambassador Andrew Young studied the teachings of Mohandas Gandhi. He became certain it was possible to change society without violence. He also grew convinced that civil rights could best be achieved through politics. No investor in Young’s positive youth development envisioned him as a liability in a minus $16 trillion national economy. “The transfer of wealth and values is through the family,” said Young. “If you do not understand capital and capitalism, you are a slave.”
The 80 year old statesman for global human rights shared some personal insights on America’s children with practitioners and policy analysts gathered for a Research to Practice Policy Forum. The New Orleans native and Howard University graduate admonished advocates to consider some proven practices in developing and funding innovative approaches to raising children. Program planners from Youth Achievers USA Institute met like minds from Children’s Defense Fund, Goodwill, faith-based ministries, social justice and institutions of higher education to address a credible threat against American lives.
A Call To Action, facilitated by the Administration for Children and Families in partnership with The Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, focused on the need to forge partnerships in support of family resilience. The policy shift from a social justice quagmire to an “intentional, pro-social approach for engaging American children in their own futures,” presents new opportunities for framing an inclusive national security mission.
“One of our greatest challenges is getting adults to work together for the benefit of our children,” said Michael Thurmond, interim Dekalb County, GA School Superintendent.
One mission concept is already formatted in a 2-hour mass media program and a 6-year old national campaign. The television program airs daily on HLN to raise awareness of issues affecting parenting in America. Anchor Kyra Phillips covers the nation's major news stories and explores more deeply how they relate to home, children and modern families.
The premise of the television program, “It takes a village to raise a child,” also identifies a community-based structure for sustainable, task-organized, homeland security operations. In a spirit of promoting win-win partnerships, Youth Achievers USA Institute adds to that premise, “It takes a whole village to raise a child.” A “Whole Village” is organized, equipped, and funded to meet the spiritual, physical, social, financial, educational, professional and recreational needs of an American child.
“No dream of a beloved community can endure the reality of a cradle to prison economy,” said Stephanie A. Walker Stradford, CEO, Youth Achievers USA Institute. “We cannot expect a profitable return on investment by investing negative value in negative behavior.” A partnership between HLN and Administration For Children and Families could add policy and practice to the promotion of “Raising America.” But the road from research and information sharing to policy and action will require a broader vision of inclusive economic security.
The Children’s Defense Fund, a non-profit child advocacy organization, has worked for 40 years to ensure a level playing field for all children. CDF champions policies and programs that lift children out of poverty; protect them from abuse and neglect; and ensure their access to health care, quality education and a moral and spiritual foundation.
According to CDF, 1 in 3 Black and 1 in 6 Latino boys born in 2001 are at risk of imprisonment during their lifetime. While boys are five times as likely to be incarcerated as girls, there are also a significant number of girls in the juvenile justice system. This rate of incarceration is endangering children at younger and younger ages.
This threat on American lives is known to advocates as America's pipeline to prison — a trajectory that leads to marginalized lives, imprisonment, and often premature death. Although the majority of fourth graders cannot read at grade level, states spend about three times as much money per prisoner as per public school pupil.
YouthUSA values each child as a “community asset” with 7-part vision of his or her own future. A free online application to THE ANNUAL YOUTH ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS invites any family, local church, sorority chapter, fraternity chapter, or community organization to join a national call to mobilize America from research to practice. There has never been a shortage of resources in “One Nation Under God,” just resourcefulness.
Click here to see Marian Wright Edelman’s 2010 testimony. On November 18, 2010, CDF President Marian Wright Edelman testified before the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Children and Families of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.
The hearing entitled, "The State of the American Child: Securing Our Children's Future", brought together a distinguished panel of witnesses to testify on the dire state of our children during these difficult economic times and how citizens and lawmakers must act now to secure our children's future and our nation's future. Others on the panel included, Helen Blank, Director of Leadership and Public Policy for the National Women's Law Center, Dr. Michael Casserly, Executive Director of the Council on Great City Schools, Peter Edelman , Professor of Law, Georgetown Law Center and Faculty Co-Director, Georgetown Center on Poverty, Inequality, and Public Policy, Jennifer Garner, Artist Ambassador, Save the Children and Dr. David Satcher, Director, The Satcher Health Leadership Institute and Center of Excellence on Health Disparities, Morehouse School of Medicine.