I traveled to Colombia this summer and walked through the most poverty stricken neighborhoods, where families fleeing the jungles and rebel organizations like FARC, came to the big cities and constructed make shift homes. In my own experience after meeting the beautiful people struggling to make their lives better in another country, I now see it everywhere around me. "There is nothing new under the sun", I suspect most things you can travel to see or experience are right in your own back yard. As such, it came to my attention this winter that "in my own back yard" the two school districts that would be most likely to have children walking to school on busy streets and whose care-givers were more likely not to have other means to get them to school, were the two school districts who never cancel school.
While driving my pre-schooler to school I have seen little children walking through blizzard conditions to school. Around my kid's school you have to live pretty far to even ride the bus. These children don't always even have enough on to keep them warm. This morning I saw kids ready to cross busy intersections, with the fog; a driver could easily not see them while turning the corner.
While safety is for sure a concern on these days; the main issue for me is, what is the message we are sending to these children? We hear a lot about self-fulfilling prophesies with regards to the under-privileged. But where do those "prophesies" come from? Could it be that an insidious thought is being planted by us in their sub-conscious that their safety isn't worth the dollars saved on extra make up days or attendance counts? And even if it has nothing to do with politics*, why are all the other kids in the county not in school because of the danger but WE are not being protected? "I am not worthy of protection."
This gets me fired up every time this happens and I am left with more questions each time. Like, what can be done about this? What other subliminal messages are being sent that we have not yet realized to these precious children, who have a chance if we, and in turn, they believe in themselves and their worth.
*I am not claiming to be an expert on the issue of school attendance, and recognize there could be many factors that go into the decision to keep a school open, meals for the children and having someone to watch over them during the day being a couple of them. I just wonder if there is room for solutions. Please feel free to share your ideas for some!