Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Now Let's Do Something About It

How much more confirmation do we need that Memphis is poor and undereducated?

Now, what to do about it?

1) Aggressive availability of birth control - not abstinence lessons which don't work. Focus on women, not men. Focus on long-term contraception, not on condoms or daily pills.

2) Pre-natal care

3) Maternity ward visits

4) Home nurse visits

5) Quality early childhood

6) Improved schools

7) Lots of extra activities - after school, summer, sports, music, art, clubs, field trips, visits with people with different carrers, extracurricular opportunities galore. No idle hands.

What would you add to the list?


Anonymous said...

Focus on men and not women. Seems we already tried it the other way.


fearlessvk said...

Aggressive availability of birth control - not abstinence lessons which don't work. Focus on women, not men.

Focus on both. Focusing only on women replicates and reinforces gendered expecations about reproduction, childbearing, childrearing, and the family. If you communicate that women bear the primary responsibility for birth control, then you encourage not only irresponsibility in men (and a tendency to view children as not their problem) but also a nefarious ideology which makes single mothers the ultimate villains in america.

it's not a zero-sum game. i can't imagine why you would have to choose between teaching birth control to women or men. teach them both.

Aaron said...

I think the point SmartCity was trying to make was what sort of long and short-term strategies can we take.

Birth control is a solution for when a society needs a disperate short-term approach to stop bringing children into circumstances that they don't deserve and when you don't have a society that strongly embraces long-term approaches such as mentoring and a lot of the other things they listed, then birth control is what your'e left with. It's a reality measure rather then an idealogy which takes time, people and a lot of resources.

We all know there are many nonprofits trying to make a difference here in Memphis and eventually things will turn around but meanwhile how do you deal with the poor who continue to reproduce at rates that far outpace the resources? It's a frustrating cycle that I am sure those working with the poor can share with you.
So in the meantime you try to keep reproduction rates down while slowly helping to change the mindset and availability of opportunities. Atleast that's my take on what SmartCity was getting at......

Aaron said...

I rank birth control right up there with incarceration. Neither one are really great options but rather sad realities. So...... let's get that skatepark finished and mentor some kids!! :)

Art said...

8. Make the libraries actual libraries again instead of what they actually are; government provided child care centers.

Aaron said...

Solution: Every person committed themselves at any level to one family, person or nonprofit that comes from or is dealing with the poor. That's "all" we need.

Let all the churches out east move into the city where they are actually needed. In return for this they make themselves relavant. It's all about connecting the poor into networks where opportunities exist and they become exposed to different ways of thinking. In return for working with the poor we get to be involved with a culture rich in community and joy in spite of having little. Something that our "wealthier" culture is very poor in.

In the meanwhile you can throw all the millions of dollars at programs and such and if there is no love (i.e. human touch or ), if one community is not involved in raising up the other, despite how painful and unrewarding this may be at first, then we will see the government continue to propagate the status quo.

Complex issues can be distilled down to whether one person truly love another enough to sacrifice there own agendas/vacations etc to help advance them. We already use this formula for our own careers it's just a matter of making people the focus.

Anonymous said...

Full funding of WIC would go a long way in improving the problems of the impact poverty has on the health of all these children. The ripple efefct would be substantial.

memphisj said...

Smart City has an excellent list and I'm not trying to be a wet blanket here, but many of these programs could never move forward in Memphis for one reason, the church. I'd like to think I'm mistaken but after witnessing the opposition to the hate crimes bill in some quarters of the african american church, and what the white fundies would say about sex education and birth control, its a non-starter.
I'm wondering if poster aaron could elaborate on what is meant by his statement that birth control is right up there with incarceration? Huh? I don't think anyone is talking about forced birth control, you know. On the other hand I couldn't agree more that if the churches in this city put money into programs that actually helped the poor instead of spending hundreds of millions on huge new buildings, athletic fields and silly symbolic giant crosses and statues I think a real dent could be made.
And I'm no expert, but every study I've read about sex education has indicated that the more children learn about their bodies (in a healthy environment) and sexuality the later in their teens they actually start having sex.

Aaron said...

MemphisJ: Clarification. Sorry for the vagueness on the birth control comment. I was comparing birth control to incarceration to make the point that if that birth control should not be a substitute for individual involvement with the poor in the same manner that incarceration should not be a legimate substitute. In that context they both represent the most hands-off uninvolved approaches we can take. In a nutshell "here's a pill, now leave us alone"

Birth control itself is a great thing to have around, I think most of us can appreciate that. Thats a different subject that the some religious groups still can't accept.

Hope that's more clear.

memphisj said...

Thanks for the clarification aaron, I appreciate it.

fieldguidetomemphis said...

the interesting thing is that teenage pregnancy rates across the state and in shelby county have been on the decline for the past 15 years. the problem is not just about access to contraception but about quality early experiences for young children. 80% of brain development happens between conception and age three, and investing in child care is a sound economic plan.

if you want to make a change in the long term, the direction of the conversation has to take a new turn - steering away from the boring and directionless conversation about libidinous behavior and heading toward a generative discussion about tangible strategies for making stronger families and communities.

we know that one caring adult in the home is good; two is better. mom's educational attainment is the best predictor of a child's overall success in life, so rather than depo-provera for all, how about programs that help young women to stay in school and continue with their education. this will be good for everyone.

early and single parenthood are not ideal conditions for raising children. this means that men - not just women - must be a part of the solution. one of my favorite slogans is "nothing stops a bullet like a job," taken from father gregory boyle of homeboy industries in LA. his strategy of job skills training has an oustanding success rate. men are an integral part of the family unit and should be included in the solution.

additionally, literacy rates in the city are abysmally low, so how about funding the memphis literacy council's efforts to increase adult reading levels and encourage parents to spend more time reading with kids and signing up all children for the imagination library.

we know what works. we just have to act on it.

Smart City Consulting said...

Fieldguide: We agree completely with your points. Our issue in Memphis is that we know the root causes for the statistics that constrict us, but most of the answers are 15-20 year answers. But we'll never get to year 15 if we don't take the first step in year one. In the meantime, we vote also to get serious about adolescent sexuality and birth control. Thanks for the insight.

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