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Opinion: Two Bladen County Children Die from Neglect

Many are talking about COVID-19 this year, and rightfully, it should be a topic of discussion. Many have been sick, and some have died due to the illness. It is important to safeguard our community members as much as possible, but keep in mind that since the COVID-19 Pandemic hit North Carolina, no one under the age of 24 died from the virus in the state. No one under 50 years of age has died from the virus in Bladen County. 

Knowing all this information and keeping all Bladen County children in mind, we should also make the children’s education a top priority. This year, at least two children have died in Bladen County due to neglect, according to the Bladen County Sheriff’s Office and the Bladen County Department of Social Services. Another child in the county recently had a sibling die in Columbus County due to child abuse. These three deaths have not made news headlines. Ongoing reports of fatalities related to suicides and violence are not readily available to the public like the pandemic reports.

In April, Bladen County DSS social workers confirmed there were 35 to 40 reports of child abuse each month in the county, and since COVID-19, the reports have been more difficult. Teachers and school personnel oftentimes report child abuse. Also, abused children who have survived their childhood and grown to adulthood relate much success to their education. 

However, this year Bladen County Schools decided to start the year with remote learning. The decision came after reports were made that most students did not follow through with remote learning responsibilities this past spring, and the CDC published an article stressing the importance of in-person learning for students. 

Some parents and caregivers reading this article may feel they can provide better education for their children at home. What about the children who have parents on drugs, the children who have learning disabilities, the children whose parents have learning disabilities, the children who rely on school as a safe haven? 

Ronald R. Edmonds, an educator with a paper titled, “An Overview of School Improvement,” helps others critically think about the impact of educators on children. The document states, “The controversial question is: What effect is most powerful in the analysis of achievement? Is the teacher effect most powerful, the familial effect most powerful, the school effect most powerful, or the district effect more powerful? We have concluded, pretty firmly, that the most powerful force at work in the issue of achievement is the school effect (Edmonds 5).”

This means in-person learning is essential! 

Our educators and political leaders in Bladen County and North Carolina have had since March to think outside the box for solutions to educate our children better than only offering remote learning. 

The teachers have unions to stand up for their interests, and some in this state have threatened to strike this year if not paid more. The politicians have lawyers to hammer down some legal orders to keep citizens oppressed. The politicians hide behind locked doors and virtual “public” meetings that do not allow the public to speak freely. They are using fear to lead the herd. 

But who do the children have to speak up for their best interests? The graph above highlights in yellow public schools in North Carolina who have reopening plans offering in-person learning. They figured out solutions for their children. Why did Bladen County not come up with a solution for better educating our children? 

Daine Smith is planning a protest at 6 p.m. on Monday, August 10, 2020, at the Bladen County Schools district office on Poplar Street in Elizabethtown. Smith said masks would be distributed for protestors without a face-covering to ensure protestors obey the state orders. 

By Charlotte Smith

 

Other related sites and information:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6013281/

 

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/reopening-schools.html

 

https://dclu.langston.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1026&context=mccabe_theses

 

https://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/education/article239504518.html

 

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