OPINION

Suffer the little children

DERON TALLEY, EDITOR @DeRonTalley

While Gonzales City Officials throw haymakers at each other, Parish politics flare up for election year, and Louisiana State Officials and National Officials all battle with each other with the claim they want to better our way of life, things are getting worse for the children. Louisiana’s children have fallen further behind in overall well-being and of quality of life, according to the latest Kids Count Data Book, a program of the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

 Louisiana has slipped to 47th among all states in the overall ranking for the quality of life for its children, with a contributing factor being poverty.

Ascension Parish has the youngest population age in the state, and though it doesn’t battle with poverty as much, it needs to become a frontrunner in helping combat the problem so we are flooded with it.

One in three children living in Louisiana are in poverty, a rate that has steadily risen since 2008. In Ascension, we don’t see nearly that number but we can improve where we stand to help offset others who are struggling. Sure, some may say that’s none of our business but when it comes to the children it does take a village, a city, a parish, a state and a nation to raise a child. There can never be enough hands helping to positively mold a child.

However, according to study, another contributing factor in Louisiana’s downfall is the growing percentage of children needing mental health services (21 percent) while capacity to provide those services is steadily declining. That is an area where Ascension does struggle.

There have been a reduction in hours for mental health clinics in the parish, and the reason is due to a lack of patients. Still that is no excuse. We need to educate and make services feel welcoming to the public. When many think about mental health, they shy away because they don’t want to be labeled as crazy. Yet, that doesn’t erase the fact the need is there. When the adults are having mental condition and those same ones produce children, we will begin to see an increase in mental health citizens, and the overall well-being of our population will diminish.

When the children are suffering, it’s due to the parents suffering. Ascension is a leader in education, safety, and economic development. Let’s keep those titles but use them to ensure we don’t fall behind. The vision can easily be distorted if we lose sight of the goal in the midst of fighting amongst ourselves. You want positive growth and well-being here just as I do. If we take it upon ourselves to push and pull with each other, our kids will only suffer.

Blessings