"Somebody needs to be held accountable, and somebody needs to pay."
At the risk of sounding callous and uncaring, I would like to say that the people who need to be held accountable for those children are the parents. It is unfortunate that the father of 10 of her 15 children is currently in jail. But whose fault could that be? It is unfortunate that she has 15 kids in the first place, considering that she obviously didn't have a plan to provide for that family as she was building it.
This is a terrible situation for the children involved, and a dangerous situation for the community in which they live. These children are in danger of becoming the products of their environment, dependants of the state, and neglected and mistreated statistics. It is very sad.
I want to tackle this not because I have any easy answers, or harsh judgements to pass, but because I don't. This story evokes different emotions in me simultaneously, illustrating just how difficult it is to have a Black and White code of social ethics. We can all argue that there is a RIGHT and that there is a WRONG and that those are absolutes. But we cannot live real lives and avoid the GRAY areas.
FIRST of all, this woman and the fathers of her children have been gravely irresponsible. To ever get to the point where you have fifteen children who are entirely vulnerable and in your care, without making sure that you have a sound support system in place is unconscionable. Whether it is a great job, a large trust fund, or an extensive and supportive family that will help you, the most basic tenant of parenthood is that you MUST protect and provide for your children.
I find it hard to believe that hard times did not befall this family sometime before that fifteenth birth. Although there are a lot of uneducated young people out there who have children without understanding the how, why and what next, there is no way that more than a dozen pregnancies could come and go without some understanding of what is causing things.
SECOND, lets talk about our responsibility as a society. It would be easy to say that this woman has created this situation for herself and she should have to figure it out. It would also be easy to say that we should make sure that these children have all of the things that they need, ie. food, shelter, education, and make sure that some government agency or other sees to it that these kids are cared for.
But what is best for these children? What is best for Society? Statistically speaking, children are very likely to follow the same or similar life choices that their parents did. Why? Because that's what we know. As parents we hope that if we work hard and take personal responsibility for our decisions, that our children will inherit these values and try to live by the same code. So it makes sense, that children raised in opposite environment may still inherit the attitudes and values of those in charge.
Should these children all be removed from this woman's custody and have better more stable homes found for them? Maybe, but is that what is best for these kids? Maybe, but the foster care system isn't able to produce remarkably better results than unstable parents to begin with. Why? Probably because by the time the Social Services intervene, there has already been significant trauma.
Should these children stay with their mother, and have Society take care of their needs? Does that not teach a dangerous lesson, that you are not really responsible for yourself or you choices? Whether the aid comes from Charities, Uncle Sam, or private individuals, it sets a precedent that there will always be someone else to help you if you get into trouble.
I personally think that it is nice to have that safety net, at least in concept, but at the same time I feel that everyone should take full responsibility for their situation. This is my GRAY area. I think it is irresponsible of an individual to get themselves into a situation like this. I think that it would be irresponsible and cruel of a society to ignore someone, anyone, who is genuinely in need of help. I think that our current cultural climate is going to perpetuate this problem by raising children who think like this woman thinks, that someone else need to be held accountable for her lack of forethought and inability to make an informed decision.
I don't have an answer for this situation that suits my conscious. In a perfect world this situation would not occur. In a better world, these children would grow up with help from their community, and not hold on to the same sense of entitlement that brought their mother to this point to begin with, but instead they would grow up grateful to their community and filled with their own desire to give back and help. Some of them surely will grow up in fear of falling into this same situation, and work hard and dedicate themselves to bettering their situation. But unfortunately this world we live in will make victims of most of them, and growing up a victim in a harsh uncaring world doesn't often lead to good places.
We don't live in a perfect world. But we need to start working towards a better one.