A child is anybody who has not attained the age of eighteen and is still depending on parents for financial, medical, social and legal support. However this vary from across the states because the age at which they start schooling differs making others to be self-sufficient as early as 16 years. Children are important members of the society since they determine the continuity or demise of that society. To a nation they are equally important because they form the basic foundation upon which the state will develop from. Because of the uncertainties within a state some children are prone to maltreatment and domestic violence regardless of their race or their position in the society Jenson (2007). This calls for the establishment of social policies for the children to safe guard the less fortunate ones against the inhumane acts from every quarter.
Painfully enough in the last two centuries and the current century children are still exposed to discrimination and are vulnerable to violent activities. This paper therefore is trying to unveil how social policies contributed to harm and good to the children. Hill (1997), points out that the social policies may not have impact on the relationship of a state with other states, but they make very important contribution to integration and harmony within the nation. There have been fundamental social policies to guide children’s rights like health policy and children’s welfare policy, educational policy and children’s policy to guard children with disabilities.
Many policies have been trying to achieve their aims but they have on the other hand failed to yield fruitful ends to the children and their families. Glazier (1988) points out that many social policies of the twentieth century aimed at over coming poverty and provision of descent living standards for American children went into trouble in 1980s with social scientists politicians and the American government as well. These social policies have been experiencing transitions and changes due to change in attitude and political ideology in some nations but in American it is still a subject of debate.
To assess the reality behind the achievements and downfalls of these social policies there is need to split the time in three distinct categories. The beginning of colonial era to current period gives three distinct historical periods, the periods include late 19th century to mid 20th century, period starting from mid 20th century to the end and the 21st century.
Period between 1890-1950.
This marked the beginning of scramble and partitioning of Africa by the colonial powers, though the United States was not interested in this. They considered the Africans as lesser people and imagined nothing good would come from Africa. They were busy perfecting their nations though through imported labour force. As Lindsey (1994) points out the Americans will always tell you how their children were happy to interact with others from other communities but will fail to acknowledge that actually it was Europeans who contributed to their development. Historically child welfare policy was initiated with a mission to respond to the needs of children reported to have been abused, neglected or was at risk of being maltreated. The report was to be made officially to public child protection officer to guarantee the child’s protection from the state. However USA is considered very unique due to her deliberate lateness and incompleteness in adoption of child welfare policy and the large levels of social problems, Glazer (1988).
The US was entirely concerned with the welfare of the white children at the expense of the Black-Americans because they had the notion that they were born with the defective genes from Africa so were lesser beings with no need for welfare policy. In spring of 1945 America emerging the victors of World War II entered Germany committed to ‘democracy’ and Jim Crow Practices. They were extremely angered by the race relationship that involved the Black-White American soldiers and the Germans resulting in biracial children. These children became objects of politicking and scrutiny by the Americans and post war Germans into the 1960s,resulting to shifting of ways from official anti-Semitism to focus on color and blackness. This period saw great suffering to biracial children and their mothers; they had no identity, no rights and so no attachments to any welfare policy. The Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) was though initiated in 1935, to help women who had children out of marriages or divorcees but not the immigrant women and their children, Stephen (2001).
United States being in the forefront to promote Jim Crow Practices of first class racial discrimination they initiated some educational policies that were great violations to the children social welfare. There was open discrimination in schools and the No Child Left Behind and the Transformation Federal act of 1950s imposing standards in school and sanctions on failure was targeting the otherwise ‘low IQ’ Black-American children. This step was publicly viewed as political ways of federal bullying because the US constitution reserves educational policy to the white children alone. Racism was the order of the day and politicians waged ‘class warfare’ by attacking the programs aimed at solving the social welfare of Back-American children. Instead of the federal government pointing fingers at the immorality of their people and the blacks they ventured their anger and inhumanity on otherwise innocent children.
The biracial children were seen as Black Africans with black ideologies and ways of life and so nobody sought their opinion anywhere in US, nobody would even stand to fight for their justice in the federal government however people like Hitler and Nazi stood firm in their Eugenics approach to life and urged the US to follow suit. Eugenics is a socialistic idea that people should live humanely; use their social policies to encourage others as possible that children are born with good and bad genetic qualities. They do not become thugs because they are black neither do they become angels because they are white but there are possibilities of a white child being worse than black ones when it comes to delinquency. Whites were proud of their culture and heritage back in the post world war periods that they experienced any guilt in imposing suffering to Black children.
This period ended with no significant influence of social policy on children’s welfare in United States more so concerning the Black children but with the general democrats view that bi-racial children were total mistakes and had no identity. They were entitled to suffer for their parent’s immoral behaviors and had no place within the federal government. The black children were being exploited and would work for several hours no body cared about their social rights because the y were considered slaves as their black parents. However some industrialized nations who embraced socialistic ideologies set up very strong social policies for all the children regardless of their race. Studies though reveals that the United States was not alone in this grand violation of the social welfare policy for children because some parts in the northern China it was pain to those who gave birth to girls. It is reported that the children were being thrown into the river and the mothers were to choose between work and children. This is purely different from the present day China.
Last half of twentieth century between (1950-1999).
This marked the period of the Great Depression and post war recovery many countries were interested in reconstructing their economies and among the reconstruction agendas was children’s welfare policy regardless of their identity. However the United States was still adamant and was not willing to change they thought that helping those in need will lead to high dependency in their otherwise developed stats. Many nations started the child welfare policy to ensure that there was equality between the children and that they enjoyed the same rights regardless of their colors. The US was quick to disapprove these initiatives and maintained their Jim Crow Practices in all the states though the AFDC continued to be functional. The black American children were still left to wallow in poverty and exploitation continued. They could not make any official report to the public children officers because they had no representatives to stand for their justice.
Though there was children’s social welfare policy in the United States it was not being implemented officially due to difference in political ideologies. The conservatives were against the implementation while the socialists were of the implementations view. It was therefore a heated debate on what to implement and what not to implement and the debate targeted the immigrants. Throughout the last half of twentieth century the child welfare policy in the United States was caught between two significant but competing values; the desire to help the needy and children living in poverty versus the ultimate concern that any form of charity was bound to create high dependency throughout the states. The AFDC continued to be operational but the state and federal government was to set the criteria for any form of assistance. The states ensured that before any child could be assisted he had to be legally entitled to the assistance. The legibility was to be proven within the states parameters set by the congress, the states then administered their program by qualifying legible members and the incurred costs were to be shared with the federal government.
When the depression was over many women got jobs then the AFDC lost it’s meaning because they never needed any assistance. Many politicians mostly the democrats and social scientists suggested that it no longer served the purpose as children’s social welfare but served unmarried women and divorcees. The pointed out that AFDC was responsible for the increased births out of marriage and the alarming rates of divorce. This dissatisfaction with AFDC led to reforms within the children’s welfare system and instead it shifted its emphasis in putting mothers to work than depending on monetary support from the state. The AFDC did not achieve much in fighting for the children social welfare because according to the democrats it was a divorce and immorality tool for black women and white soldiers or with their employers to get money from the state. In early 1980s Reagan’s administration and the congress faced high rates of inflation, declined productivity, and increased rates of unemployment and dependency, unpredictable energy supplies but at very expensive prices. This lead to the heated debate to revise the domestic policy and it saw the formation federal policy formation on children and their families.
The Federal Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) of 1996 slowly redefined the welfare system in America. The children’s welfare reformed from rhetoric views and changed image in American politics it became subject of discussion in the senate and even the parliament. The most striking part being the rights of the biracial children, their identity and legibility to the children’s welfare. This represented a major shift in the welfare act because it abolished the open-ended funding by the states and the federal government. The welfare reform lead to state flexibility and greater heights of diversity were achieved. The Black-American children for once were free of scrutiny and politics behind their identities started ceasing though it’s not dead yet. PRWORA led to initiation of new criteria and limits to be met by the mothers. The fingers were no longer pointed towards the children but their mothers were to answer to their immorality. The Family Act support of 1998 was later on started to ensure that the genuinely needy children got support even if their mothers were going to work. It put much emphasis on medical care for the children and equality amongst the white and black American children. With continued developments in the US there was also high rates of population development thus leading to increased disparities. There were greater needs for help and so the states ran into debts with the federal government because of the larger amounts of money they were using to provide for the needy children.
This historical period ended with great reforms on the children social welfare reforms with the United States realizing the importance of having strong social welfare to the children. This was due to the fact that most of the children were exposed to dangerous situation like sexual harassment while others were being involved in drug trafficking there were also increased rates of juvenile delinquencies linked to children exposed to violence at home. This compelled the federal government to carry out necessary research on how to improve the children’s social welfare and to guard the children’s rights accordingly. Further on the United States became in the forefront to advocate for children’s social rights in Europe and Africa where there were still great violations. This was faced with a lot of oppositions as the communist states thought it was the American way of maintaining imperialism and greed for power.
The twenty first century (2000-presnt)
Over the past ten years the US children social welfare system has undergone great transformations. This reform have led to the consideration of the Black American children to be part of America and are also entitled to their social welfare policy rights. As Lindsey (1997) puts more children are living in poverty in the US as compared to other industrialized nation and more than a quarter grow in poverty exposed to all forms of child abuse and maltreatment. This can be attributed to the racial segregations that were officially supported by the federal government and the continued debates on children’s identity. In 2002 2 million American children were reported abused and neglected compared to 1990 reported cases it represented some 46% officially reported victims. The United States which was once very vocal and aggressive on violation of the rights of African- American and Latino children have now reformed and has pioneered strategies to prevent child abuse. The US can now spend large amounts of money to fight any form of child abuse and negligence in other industrialized countries that they never bothered to do before.
The great wave of welfare reforms swept the nations in 1996 when bill Clinton signed a welfare reform bill to secure his office term. This was aimed at allowing the Black Americans to cast their ballots anywhere in the states they belonged to further on it marked the end on the debates of welfare reforms. All the public officials joined him in the chorus “we know that the welfare reforms woks” in his re-election bid. The reality to this matter was not to give true welfare reforms but was to win the hearts of the then emerging Black struggles for equality before the American federal laws. Before this there were debates to discuss laws for the provisions to the immigrants and to what level the funding of their children’s social welfare will be. This reform was carried forward to the 2000 presidential campaigns; this was a sign that the democrats wanted to please the Black Americans into supporting them to win the then presidential poles.
Though there have been less funding from the states the welfares are still struggling to move on and some agencies in Illinois New York are seen to be making efforts to reduce the length of children-staying-out-of home care. However if you think that the child welfare system in the United States is over then you are cheated. Current societal attitude and decree that anybody with a drop of black blood is black hence there is still more afoot by the bi-racial young adults and children to claim both parts of their ethnicity and social heritage. Issue on bi-racial identity must be revisited and revised because the quest for self-identity is now rampant in the US. If the federal government is claiming to have brought reforms in the children social welfare policy then this issue of identity should be addressed and the bi-racial children treated equally as white Americans.
This century is still indicating some mixed feelings towards the strength of United States ability to manage and run the children social welfare appropriately. The reforms are seen in papers but not in practice since the bulk of children exposed to maltreatment and other forms of violence are from the United States. It is in the US that there are all sorts of organized youth gangs and juvenile delinquencies. This proves the inability of the federal government to take good care of the children and proves that signing the welfare policy act was to ensure that the democrats remained in power at the expense of the black Americans and their children. The social welfare policies for children have worsened the situation than before since there are million children still suffering violence from police, the federal government and the civilians. Cases of children’s rights violation are still many with others reported and others ignored.
It can be said that during these three distinct historical times there have been great reforms in the children social policies in the United States. This is due to the fact that the US has been experiencing numerous black struggles for liberation and the struggles can be dated back to the initiation of general social reforms by Martin Luther Jr.Other key contributor to the reforms was Marcus Garvey who called for black unionism to fight for the blacks social rights and initiated black companies like The Black Star Liner shipping company to bring back Africans to their homes of origin.
The politicking and scrutiny of bi-racial children as objects slowly took a different course in America due to pressure from socialists to treat them as part of their citizens. The Jim Crow practices slowly died as the African-Americans grew up to be prominent members of the society for example when Du Bois led others to launch the Niagara falls movement to fight for the welfare rights of their biracial children among other key issues. The last half of the twentieth century saw some change in the federal government but was still a biased change as far as the child’s welfare policy was concerned because the only children who were legible to this policy were the whites and had to meet the criteria set aside by the government. The children who were born of blacks were not considered to be in any danger and would work together with their parents in the plantations or homes of the whites. According to federal laws they were born bad people and so were not entitled to any form of social welfare.
It was until the twenty first century that the social welfare of the American children become neutral because of the high rates of dependency that drugged their economies down. The US the realized the importance of having children social policies and went ahead to establish other policies as the education policy for the child, children health policy and the policy for disabled children an their families. Numerous social organizations have also come up to ensure that the children’s policies are adhered to and help in pursuit of any legal matters on behalf of the violated children. They ensure that there are trained juvenile officers to help in investigation and prosecution of any juvenile criminals. This has a great impact on the general political and social view towards juvenile delinquency that was being linked to the African American children.
There is need for the United States to improve her mechanisms in the implementation of the social welfare policy for the children because the future of this state is on the children. The democrats should shake off their political ideologies of reserving white cultural heritage but focus on uniting the children. The societies who still embrace the fact that any child having a drop of black blood is black should let go the attitude to ensure that all the children enjoy their rights and freedoms. The communist on the other hand should rekindle the light of reforms on all the social policies of the children and put the federal government to task to implement the policies without failure. This will help in decreasing the rates of organized criminal gangs because the youths will be having what they require like proper housing, education and above all security. The existing social welfare groups should work without any discrimination and should not wait for official complaint to be reported to act. They should always be on the look out for possible indicators of social violence at home like children having single parent, drug addicted parent and those from poor neighbourds. By so doing they will be able to establish the real sources of violence and abuse to the children. This should apply to other policies as well because a sound being will be attained from good health, proper education, proper legal representation and discrimination free social status.