The Instigator
Greylance
Pro (for)
Losing
6 Points
The Contender
andrewbary
Con (against)
Winning
12 Points

The creation of state run "orphanages" to house children of at risk families. Read opening argument

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/4/2008 Category: Politics
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,197 times Debate No: 1356
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (3)
Votes (6)

 

Greylance

Pro

A large problem in American these days is that of broken families that have no parents but numerous children. I am not speaking of a couple who have divorced, live in decent homes, pass their children back and forth for the court ordered visits, squabble over alimony, etc. I am speaking of families where there has never been a father figure, the mother is often unemployed or employed just enough to pick up welfare, and there are often six or seven plus children in familial limbo. These children will, unfortunately more often than not, turn to either crime, drugs, or both to escape from their lack of a real home, and soon repeat the cycle. There is often little or not hope for those born into this system, and despite what many politicians want to say, we have no way of alleviating this other than a firm pat on the back and telling them to hit the books harder.

I did not think of this very often (when I did I just wrote it off as a incurable evil in the world) until I went to Boy's State of Virginia. While there, I was put into a smaller body of around forty boys my age (called a city) and we lived together for a week. While there, we participated in elections for our city mayor, sheriff, representatives and senators to the state congress, and finally our Governor, Lt. Governor, and Attorney General. While there, we had constant adult supervision obviously, but it was kept mostly in line by the kids themselves. Now I understand that the boys I was with were, albeit, a very select group of young men by the nature of Boy's State, but I don't see how a similar system couldn't be devised using increased adult supervision in a more controlled environment.

To see if this would work out or not, I would suggest that one state (let's say Virginia) use a small tax on a few various items to raise enough money for the clothes, shoes, teachers, and other personnel needed to run the institution, and then tap into federal funding to help build a school, housing, library, cafeteria, gym, soccer and/or football field, and swimming pool. After this was established, a state agency would be set up to locate, process, and transport a group of younger boys and girls to the facility. (I would suggest younger children because they would be more accepting of a new way of life as opposed to grabbing troubled teens and yanking them out of their home environment and thrusting them into a new one.) Have the kids grow up in the facility, form their own governments (such as at Boy's State) so that they may figure out how best to handle their disputes (with adult supervision). Have the kids all attend classes together like at a normal high school, and take measures to provide extra curricular activities outside of what the institution offers (i.e.- negotiate for a Boy Scout/Girl Scout troop to be established there, etc.)

I would like to thank in advance who ever decides to debate me and any comments left on this debate, because this is an idea I've had for quite some time but hasn't really seen the light of day.
andrewbary

Con

Greylance,

First let me say how much I appreciate the creativity in your argument. I think it is a very goal-oriented idea that may have some credibility in part. However, I think the proposal is flawed for several reasons.

You primary comparison is your experience at Boys State in Virginia. From my understanding, most Boys State programs are alike, in that they allow the participants to form their own "Government." You do point out very clearly the first problem with this comparison. Boys State was comprised of a group of selectively chosen individuals that have high aptitudes for leadership. At-Risk kids, in general, do not show those same aptitudes. Not of their own fault, of course, but because the system they grew up in often did not nurture a responsibility-oriented lifestyle.

Second, remember that your experience of Boys State in Virginia may be very different from the experience of other participants. Many may not have enjoyed the idea of running for office or voting for their peers. Several may have even seen it as a simple joke. It's difficult to compare based on experience.

Also, think of the difficulties in controlling a 'society' of only children that come from broken homes. As you signified, in this debate we are talking not about children that come from broken homes but whose families still have the monetary and social resources to give the kids good lives, but those that come from largely impoverished and under served areas of society. Many of these children will have seen gang organizations run their neighborhoods. Many know stories of friends or loved ones who are involved in drugs, crime, prostitution, etc. Therefore, putting all these influences together and then allowing the kids themselves to form a government, albeit supervised, is inherently dangerous.

Finally, remember that perhaps the most influential people in a child's life are his or her parents. By taking kids away from parents, you guarantee that children will lack even the opportunity of having a significant parental figure in their lives. This alone can have drastic consequences on the social skills of these kids. (Of course, if the parents give up the kid anyway, we end up with that situation anyway... but I will address that in a moment.

Of course, all these arguments must ultimately be contrasted with our current system, and other possible solutions.

If a parent, or set of parents, is deemed unfit to care for a child, the status quo does what it can to place the child in a foster home, where loving and caring parents can look after the children in a home-based environment. The legal ramifications of placing these kids in a self-governed orphanage present a whole new layer to the difficulties we already have in this area.

Perhaps the better choice would be to expand access single parents to education and resources to care for their children in better ways. Perhaps new networks of childcare and workforce resources need to be sought out. I think ultimately we just realize that setting up a Boys State-esque children's camp is not feasible, nor would it be truly efficient.

Again Greylance, thanks for this topic. I look forward to the later rounds and I hope that no matter who wins, the people reading this will be challenged to think of new, innovative ideas to save our at-risk youth from the vicious cycle many find themselves in.
Debate Round No. 1
Greylance

Pro

(Let me start by thanking you for your courtesy, and apologizing in advance if my argument gets a little heated, it's just the way I am.)

The argument that these children are not leaders due to the fact that they come from at risk families, although logical at first glance, does not hold water. The reasoning is that because they come from lower classes, they can't be leaders. The real reason for that is because they generally don't have any real experiences to build their leadership abilities. They don't have access to Boy Scouts, National Honors Society, JROTC, etc. that give people the skills they need to lead their fellows. Well, they do have access to gangs, as you mentioned, which in a way proves my point. It is very difficult to lead a bunch of ne'er-do-wells at anything. Yet low level street gangs formed from the very individuals who would populate this institution manage on a regular basis to perform highly organized and effective drug smuggling, gun-running, protection rackets, and murders on a regular basis. The leadership ability is there, it just is not used for anything productive.

I agree with you that not everyone at Boy's State enjoyed or even liked running for political office. Fortunately, they didn't have to. Much like a school's SCA (or even our actual governments) one does not HAVE to run for office, or even vote. And although some students may see these elections as a joke, there are plenty of adults in society who believe that elections are a joke anyways. Yet that doesn't manage to discredit the democratic process.

The argument that they grew up in a life of crime and villainy is moot if you rescue them at a young enough age. I would strongly oppose placing individuals over the age of six or seven (perhaps younger, I am not a master of child psychiatry) into this institution, since it would be far too traumatic after that age to take them from their parents, unless the situation called for it, i.e. no other option. (Older children could possibly apply for emancipation and application to the institute if certain criteria were met).

As to your final argument, I'll have to say that I can't give a 100% retort. I must concede that a child's parents play a very important role in the child's development. But I do have a remedy to the problem you've proposed, albeit not a perfect one. Each city (for the sake of this debate, we'll call each of the units that the kids are put in a city) would have several adults assigned to it. These adults jobs would be as mentors and guides for that particular city, and would stay with them all the way until they graduated from the institute. This way, they could have strong role models to look up to, and parental figures in their lives to go to when they needed guidance or the other help that parents would usually provide.

Finally, I'll have to branch of into a short monologue on the nature of this debate:

By placing these kids in the environment that I have outlined, we could, in a sense, turns the wolves into sheep dogs. Those who are natural born bullies would, instead, become the aggressive commonwealth attorneys (the institution would have its own "court system" for handling small offenses within the institution); those who are natural gossip hounds would become news writers for the institution's in house newspaper; those who would become the drug dealers would soon be peddling candy bars and pencils at the store to their fellow "citizens" and hawking pottery and other crafts to the high-minded and spend-thrift couples who attend those fund raisers that sell those hokey arts and crafts; those who would become the "street soldiers" of a local gang would become the sheriffs and deputies of the institution's citizen constabulary; and the liars, cheats, frauds, braggarts, and perverts would, naturally, become the politicians. That is the aim of this program: to bring out the traits and talents that these individuals would find out on there own, teach them how to use them, and show them how to use them responsibly.

Go ahead and call it idealistic, 'cause that's all it is: an idea.
andrewbary

Con

Greylance,

Thanks again for the arguments. I can understand how some things get very heated, I'll try my best to stay cool headed as well. :)

I am afraid that I may be coming off as assuming that because the kids are poor, they are not good leaders. That is certainly not the case. Your clarification that you are talking about kids with a maximum age of six or seven poses an entirely new set of obstacles in getting this kind of institution to work.

You argue that these same kids are the ones forming organizations of "drug smuggling, gun-running, protection rackets, and murders" on a regular basis. I would say they need to be quite a bit older than six or seven. No doubt, there is the occasional story of a child finding his parents gun, but that does not mean the leadership skills are coming into play there.

Children of this age will also be ill-equipped with the resources to decide how to 'govern' in this community. How old were the participants in Boys State? Much older than 6 or 7, I am sure. If the problem is, as you state, that children from lower class broken homes don't have access to programs like Boy Scouts, JROTC, NHS, or other programs designed to enhance leadership skills and responsibility, then the solution is not to create an orphanage to ship these kids off to.

The solution, rather, is to allow the state to significantly expand the availability of such programs to children that come from these households. That way, you can continue the advantage of direct parental involvement, and also reap the benefits of these programs, without the cost or the legal ramifications of creating this supervised, child-governed orphanage.

It's true that many people in America feel the election and political system is a joke. Many have no clue what they are voting for. That's a primary reason our founding fathers introduced the electoral college. But that's a separate debate.

It is still a simple truth that the more wise solution is to expand access to foster homes, bring in more people that will be willing to be parents, and give those families enhanced access to programs that will help build upon natural born traits.

In addition, I think we need to think about the real costs associated with this proposal. Not only are you building the entire new community: gym, library, dorms, etc., but you are now going to pay for every meal, every stitch of clothing, upkeep on any damage done, etc. This quickly rises into the billions of dollars. Now I assume that you would argue the money we save on the drop in crime will make up for it, but if states were to heed some of my earlier suggestions, we avoid cost and still drop the crime rate in future years.

Thanks Greylance, I look forward to Round 3!
Debate Round No. 2
Greylance

Pro

Here are the points made in the last Con post

I. Children age 6 to 7 are not participating in gang violence
II. Younger children would be incapable of formulating this type of student government
III. Access to programs should be brought to the children in at-risk families, not the other way around
IV. Cost

I.
Children age 6 to 7 are, by and large, not participating in gang related violence. However, when a child is raised in these areas, they are often recruited at a young age because they have no family to go to for support, and the gang provides this family. By removing the kids from his "home" (which was never really there to begin with) and putting him in a "gang" supervised by the state that teaches them civic virtues instead of gangbanging, you raise the kids as they would have been raised anyways, except now they are productive members of society.

II.
Who says that the 6 and 7 year olds would be forming the government? This is a long term project with long term results. Thus, the program takes a while for it to get up to full steam. The first batch of kids would not hold their elections until they reached high school age. Since there would be a constant stream of replacements right at their heels (just as in a regular high school), the first government would set the basic ground work and all the others would follow after them. Thus, the age problem wouldn't be a problem.

III.
The problem is, these programs require money and impetus to join and participate in. This makes it quite difficult for at-risk kids, since the families don't have the money and the parents don't particularly care whether the kids succeed in life or not. Thus, the kids have no reason or ability to join the programs. On top of that, gangs are often openly hostile to these programs and the people who participate in them, because they deprive them of fresh recruits. Remove the kid from the problem area, and he won't be a problem any more.

IV.
The thing is, however, that if a government can come up with billions upon billions of dollars of imbecilic pork barrel spending, then the system is more than capable of being milked to create the institution that I've outlined. Also, if this institution was established in an area with a relatively decent population, it would be able to bring thousands of jobs to the area and provide a stable non/semi-skilled workforce for as long as the institution was in place. In a very short amount of time, the program would pay for itself in as much as that it would help generate revenue as much as any other program, and it would continue to generate revenue in perpetuity for as long as the institute was open. It's the pork that never dies; a corrupt politician's S�hr�mnir that actually serves a purpose.
andrewbary

Con

Greylance, Allow me to say that this has been very enjoyable. For my first debate on debate.org, I think it's been a blast. I hope we get lots of votes, one way or the other.

I like the break down of points, so I'll stick with that and add some closers of my own.

I. I acquire that you are still seeking to put kids from at risk families in these institutions. However, we still face these enormous legal problems, which you never addressed: Do we do away with the foster care program? If we keep the foster care program, how do we determine where to send the child(ren)? If we are expanding our definition for "at-risk" kids, can we legally justify taking a child away from a parent, just because they are poor and their single parent works a lot? These kids are NOT raised as they would have been raised anyway with your proposal. They are raised in an entirely new and unresearched field of social development. Seems like an awful big risk to me.

II. No problem. That's something I could accept. Kids have to grow up to grasp the concept of running their government. But then, remember, these kids will not be raised under the same dynamic that a) most actual politicians are and b) the majority of participants at Boys State were. Therefore, it's difficult to assume that their priorities will be justified.

III. If the current system is allowing the kids to stay with their current parents, while the parents don't have the concern to engage their children in leadership activities, then there is no way that we will be able to get the kids out of the household in the first place to populate these orphanages.

Second, it seems to me that the idea that gangs fight back is one more reason to put more and more leadership programs in at risk areas. Why? As you said, they deprive gangs of new recruits. Therefore, the student not only stays away from the gang, but becomes actively involved in restoring and benefiting his/her own community. These kids will have far more drive to establish a positive movement in their home town than in a farcical land we create for them.

IV. Pork spending does not go away, true. You're not proposing a federal program, though. You're proposing a state program. Pork barrel spending is not near as bad at the state level. And depriving the federal government of a few billion is no big deal. To states in can be devastating. I am confused though, all these kids are going to have jobs that... pay? Where is that money coming from? In addition, even with a semi-skilled workforce, you're *never* going to make the kind of money it's going to take to keep this institution afloat. Not with all the adult personnel you'll have to hire. Jobs are great and all, but we need to make sure it's worth it.

Ultimately, let's remember the choice that the voters will be making at the end of this debate. The proposed idea is very lofty. However, the legal, financial, and social repercussions are far too great in number and weight. I encourage us to look elsewhere to find solutions to this issue. As I have proposed, a plan that brings more of the leadership programs out there like Boy Scouts and JROTC into low-income, resource-deprived areas has clear alternatives to this plan, and avoids those same problems we find with the Pro's plan. Perhaps states should also increase funding for extra-curricular programs in inner-city schools. Something so simple could open up recruiting for programs like FCCLA, FBLA, NHS, etc... to millions of students that would in no other way have an opportunity to be leaders.

Greylance, thanks so much. Great Debate!!!
Debate Round No. 3
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by Robert_Lee_Hotchkiss 9 years ago
Robert_Lee_Hotchkiss
The single biggest problem with the pro argument is this sort of thing has been tried repeatedly and the outcomes are pretty bad. Firstly there is such a strong tendency to under fund these things so you have such a low student to teacher ratio that that the teachers resort to tactics that tend towards institutionalization. When their is a low student to teacher ratio everything else is put behind student control. Often the biggest problems with government programs are that they are underfunded.

Secondly people do not respond well to being taken away from their families. Have you ever talked to people who have grown up in orphanages. I have, and forgive the pun, they are not happy campers. They often realize that their parents couldn't take care of them but they hate the government much much more.

I went to a residential high school. It was a positive thing. I met my wife there. So I think there is definitely a role for boarding schools but you would have to be very careful in how you implemented them.

One of the greatest obstacles a scheme like this are the recent rulings almost mandating community based segregation. Could you imagine the nightmare of trying to teach a large number of children all of whom are Spanish language only students English when they spend every waking moment together.
Posted by Farooq 9 years ago
Farooq
interesting idea... have you contacted your legislator?
Posted by kels1123 9 years ago
kels1123
There are also many kids that come form a single parent low income home , that are more driven and motivated from it. Just because it is a one parent home or there is no money or a large family doesn't mean a life of crime. I have an aunt who has left her children because she is an addict. The father is an alcoholic. There are 7 kids and they have raised themselves they have hardly any money. Well those kids are getting older and they so motivated and doing so well , because they know what that life is like and they are determined to come out of it. The oldest got the kids a house, bought a car , has had a great job for 5 years and is going to college as well. She has money saved and saved a Christmas Club account to buy for the younger ones. The others have great grades and go to good schools. So while yes some kids turn to a life of crime. there are also many suburbia kids that turn that way too. You can't take away a child from their home because they have no money and a parent with a low income. As long as the children are taken care of and loved that is what matters.
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Vote Placed by PreacherFred 9 years ago
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