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July 25, 2014

Guest view: It takes a village to champion children

For safety, success and happiness, children must have champions.

Pastors, teachers, other school personnel, law enforcement people, governmental officials and neighbors can fill the "championship role." However, it is my opinion the parents are the major champions for their children. It is also my sense that the media must champion the cause of children.

I applaud the Belleville News-Democrat for being a significant and consistent champion for child-ren through its coverage of children's activities, accomplishments, needs and problems. Champions can play an advocacy role in children's lives. They can also be role models for the youngsters. The children's champions may even be authority figures or significant others in the children's lives. Such people can and should help children become psychologically healthy so they grow into well integrated, contributing adults.

I can use my own childhood champions as examples. My mother was a devoted chief champion for my brother and for me, as were our pastor, teachers and the police officers in the 4th District of the St. Louis Police Department, where we grew up. Our neighbors and the sisters at St. Patrick's Parish (even though we were Baptist and not Roman Catholic) were authority figures who championed our cause -- and were a significant part of our upbringing.

On the other hand, I remember some children who appeared not to have champions. Many of these childhood friends and associates grew up disillusioned, unhappy and unsuccessful.

Adults, significant and otherwise, have the responsibility of advocating for and championing the cause of our children. At least a part of this advocacy involves setting good examples. Parents and teachers, particularly, must watch what we do and say around the children. Even our manner of dress and command for respect are extremely important.

Our children desperately need adults to be champions for their safety, education and rearing. Adults in the championing role can turn children into champions themselves when they reach adulthood.

It is my opinion also that the immigrant children who are currently overwhelming U.S. shores and soil are also our children. I daresay that President Obama and the U.S. Congress ought to go into a championing stance for these children while they are on U.S. soil, awaiting legalities as to whether they will stay or be deported. The immigrant children must be housed, fed, clothed and educated to the best of the U.S. fiscal ability, of course not taking anything away from U.S. children.

I do not advocate Congress giving Obama a blank check. However, the U.S. executive and legislative branches of our government should work together for the good of all U.S. and immigrant children.

Katie Harper Wright, of East St. Louis, is an adjunct professor emeritus at Harris Stowe State College in St. Louis.

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