The news continues to uncover more incidents of childhood lead poisoning. Lead is a toxic metal that is harmful to human health; there is NO safe level for lead exposure.
This colorless, odorless, and tasteless metal can go undetected in water. Excessive amounts of lead place adults at higher risk for cancer, stroke, kidney disease, memory problems and high blood pressure. At even greater risk are children, whose rapidly growing bodies absorb lead more quickly and efficiently. Lead can cause premature birth, reduced birth weight, seizures, hearing loss, behavioral problems, brain damage, learning disabilities, and a lower IQ level in children.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that lead is the most serious environmental health hazard for children under 6 years old in the United States. Blood tests for lead are often recommended for very young children to determine if lead exposure it occurring.
What does toxic mean for us or children? Lead poisoning. It doesn’t make it any less dangerous or any more palatable when it’s called ‘contamination’. Contaminants are poisonous, and that’s it. So, when we hear that word, should we be any less concerned or less alarmed? I think not!
When lead is discovered to be in the drinking water consumed by the general public, that’s bad. When lead is found any place where large numbers of children gather on a regular basis, that is definitely cause for alarm and cause for immediate action.
Parents send their children to school to learn and the basic thought is that their learning environments will be safe from physical harm. Harm is not limited to bullying behaviors in unsafe school settings, either. Harm comes from children being placed in any unsafe and unhealthy conditions that exist in an environment. Independent of classroom culture, school climate, or cultural competence, lead poisoning is harmful and neglectful. Language, parenting style, the achievement gap, income level, or location- lead poisoning is neglectful.
Harm comes from food prepared where unsanitary conditions exist. Harm comes from unsafe chairs with broken legs, and wobbly desks in need of retirement, replacement or repair. The potential for harm is ever-present without precautions, preventive measures and proper maintenance performed in any environment, location or setting.
Emotional and physical harm can happen anywhere. But when harmful conditions exist within learning institutions, that constitutes benign neglect, a dereliction of duties and responsibilities. Millions of parents leave their child to spend hours everyday in schools under the belief that it is in their best interest. And, it is safe!
In fact, parents are legally bound to send their children into these learning environments whenever school is in session. If they don’t, then child welfare agencies along with law enforcement will swoop down on them like “white on rice”. It is essentially a criminal offense, a crime deemed abusive and considered neglectful of parents who refuse to send their child to school on a regular basis.
So, what is it called when the schools, the officials who represent these agencies, LEA and SEA’s, don’t ensure the safety of the children who attend these schools? Aren’t they to be held equally accountable? They have licenses, professional certifications, and some are even elected or appointed to their positions of power and influence. They ARE regulated, monitored, and legally/ethically bound to KEEP CHILDREN SAFE, too. Shouldn’t they have to answer to their neglect?
Parents aren’t awarded parenting licenses, but are often closely monitored, scrutinized, and looked at through a microscope to ensure the health and wellness of their child. If they falter, there are provisions in place that will hold them accountable, because that is..IN THE BEST INTEREST OF THE CHILDREN.
So, where do we go from here? How are parents supposed to respond, react, and how should they restore trust in the public education system, their local schools, government officials…? How and why should they trust teachers in these environments? What about the disciplinary decisions made regarding their child’s school performance, behavior or learning progress? What’s next? Where should we look for solutions, and how can we let our infrastructures in schools and public places go unmanaged and get this far out of hand?
Budgetary constraints should not be an allowed excuse for neglecting any or all places within the public domain. The public does include children and public education settings hold great numbers of children. If they represent our future, then why do we jeopardize their future instead of protecting them at ALL costs?
Flint, Newark, and if we open our eyes, and look around, it may be happening in your city, your child’s school, or your own home.
Re-prioritize funding, and be held accountable wherever the public health and well-being is impacted, closely target environments such as schools, courthouses and related governmental buildings, public transit subways, auditoriums, public parks, libraries, etc…
At least many of our churches and other institutions where families and children go to worship and practice their faith, have a ‘building fund”!
Anyone elected by the people, to act on the people’s behalf and in the best interest of the people, must pay particular attention to the people with no voice to effect changes at all levels. These people are the marginalized, under-represented, largely forgotten, dismissed and at greatest risk….and also include children. Don’t forget to mind and watch over the children; protect the children; ensure their safety, health and wellness, and make it your business to comprehensively ensure their safety at school.
Any more questions? I definitely have a few more. What about you? Now is the time to speak out!