Licensing Parents: Can We Prevent Child Abuse and Neglect?

By Jack C. Westman | Go to book overview

Chapter 1
The Eroding Quality of Life
in the United States

High rates of violent juvenile crime, school failure, and adolescent childbearing add up to an enormous public burden, as well as widespread private pain. Our common stake in preventing these damaging outcomes of adolescence is immense. We all pay to support the unproductive and incarcerate the violent. We are all economically weakened by lost productivity. We all live with fear of crime in our homes and on the streets. We all are diminished when large numbers of parents are incapable of nurturing their dependent young, and when pervasive alienation erodes the national sense of community.

-- LISBETH AND DANIEL SCHORR, Within Our Reach, 19881

What is happening to our country? Why has our unprecedented material wealth not given us emotional or physical security?

Our young people may well assume that streets and schools inevitably are dangerous places. Yet I can remember walking at night from Washington Square to Central Park in New York City in the 1940s with no fear for my safety. Prior to the 1980s there was no reason to install a security system in my home in Madison, Wisconsin. Now, even in that Midwestern town, drive-by shootings endanger people during the day.

Violent crime and welfare dependency attract our attention, but it is evident to me that the present magnitude of these social problems

-7-

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