Hope for the Future of the Children

During my shift tonight, I had the pleasure to have an hour-long conversation with one of our guests.  She was an especially impressive young lady who is studying to earn a degree in Criminal Justice.  After she finishes her studies, she hopes to become a child advocate working with sexually abused kids. I noticed her using our business center computer last night for about three hours, and when I came in tonight, she was typing away again. I asked her about the workload she was attacking, and she explained to me how she was taking classes at NWACC and online classes from Missouri Southern. It all equaled up to a mountain of homework that she had to do in the business center, because her laptop was destroyed during the flooding of her apartment, which is the reason she’s staying with us in the first place. I went back to my business, so that she could return to her schoolwork. At about 1:30, she decided she was finished for the night because she has a 9AM class this morning, but she didn’t end up leaving the lobby until 2:30 after we finished our discussion about the plight of sexually abused and sexually delinquent children, the state of our education system, and our hopes for our future endeavors.

You could tell the guest (I’m going to call her Amber from now on because I’m tired of referring to her as the guest and I never got her name, plus she kind of looked like an Amber, or maybe a Nicole) was passionate about the troubles of these children who are introduced to sexual situations too early in their maturity cycles to understand what it all means. Amber told me about a child who was labeled as a sex offender at the age of five because he molested his younger sister, and how his psyche maybe irreparably damaged. There are also surprisingly few programs to help these children and they often end up back with the parents because no foster or adoptive parent wants to deal with the stigma associated with a sexual offender child.

After discussing the rate of repetition for these crimes, our discussion segued to the serious deficiencies in our educational system. I told her about a research paper that I’m working on concerning the problems that boys are facing from today’s teaching methods. Boys continue to fall further and further behind girls in reading and writing skills, and they have also been passed in mathematical skills by girls in recent years. While this might just seem like a problem for boys, this unbalance is affecting our girls, too. Colleges are starting to implement a form of affirmative action in order to keep their gender ratios balanced. They pass over girls who are more talented, qualified, and capable in favor of boys that are less deserving. Then, in the post-college world, some girls are faced with decision to marry someone less educated because female college graduates out number male college graduates at almost a 2:1 rate. You’ll get to read more about it in about a month when the paper is finished.

We also discussed the millage proposal in Bentonville that just passed yesterday, and how the whole situation was just one big catch-22. If you don’t vote for a millage increase, then the overcrowding within the school district continues and only gets worse. Of course, if you do vote for the millage increase, then you’re placing more money in the hands of the people who decided to spend upwards of $20 million on sports facilities for the high school, including a football stadium that, outside of Reynolds’ Razorback Stadium, might be the nicest one in the state – high school or college. Forgive me if I choose pragmatism over opulence. The money that went into that complex could have been used to build another elementary school or two, or for another middle school. But, yet again, athletics reign supreme over academics (and this coming from a sports guy).

Just before Amber returned to her room to turn in for the night, we talked about places we’d move if we ever decided to leave the area. For every place we came up with, there were always negatives for every positive. I don’t know what she chose, but I already had my mind made up before the conversation began. I love me some Vegas and I really think that’s one of the few places I’d leave NW Arkansas for. Finally, she left to go to sleep.

I don’t know where that young woman will end up, but I do know with the passion and determination that she exemplifies, the abused children of that area will have a strong voice on their side.

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About Richard Howk

Fiction author with my first novel, Pariah, available December 2nd.
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