The Current Systems Don't Work This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   With the growing number of deaths in our society, we can come to the startling conclusion that the current systems are not working. Systems like welfare, law enforcement, and the judicial system need to be looked at in detail. Recently the body of a slain eight-year-old girl was found in an abandoned parking lot. Caseworkers and school officials never noticed she was missing. Phrases like "domestic violence" and "child abuse" are becoming common. Our society has become so violent we are not affected by the enormous number of untimely deaths each year.

Our welfare system has continued to fail year after year. People are given free money (food stamps) to buy groceries and other items. Often this money does not go to groceries, but rather for beer, lottery tickets, junk food and cigarettes. Since these items cannot be bought with food stamps, how do they do it? Very easily. Parents send their children into a store, each with one food stamp and tell them to buy one piece of five-cent candy. The children give their parents back ninety-five cents in change, which can be put toward any item. Children are denied the food they need so their parents can have what they want. I work in a convenience store and see this happen all the time. The New York State Lottery has taken steps to prevent some of the misuses. If anyone on welfare wins a prize, that money will be put toward repaying the government the money they have received through the system.

Social workers are supposed to catch abuse of the system along with the physical abuse of children. As with the little eight-year-old, it doesn't always happen. How many more defenseless children will be killed by their parents?

Every year thousands of criminals are sent to overcrowded jails. Every year thousands of victims are forgotten while criminals are given parole to make room for new criminals. The number of inmates has tripled since 1980, bringing the number to 992,000 in 1994. A report from the Justice Policy Institute states "that more money was spent on building prisons during 1987-1995 than on colleges." What does this say about our society? We are spending more on convicted felons than on education. Since 1984 there has been one new university built and 21 new prisons. How many murder and sexual assault cases go unsolved every year? How many freed criminals live in your neighborhood? Your neighbor could be a convicted child molester.

Every year more and more criminals slip through the cracks on legal technicalities. Crim-inals are set free because a police officer may not have followed procedure. O. J. Simpson was found guilty of murder in a civil suit but because of police mess-ups he was not convicted in the murder trial. How can this be right? The sad truth is it happens every day. Thousands of criminals get away with unspeakable crimes each year. I don't know about you but I think that number is alarming. Laws need to be created to prevent mistrials over small technicalities. If a criminal is guilty, he is guilty whether or not the officer read him his rights. What about the rights of the deceased child? No one read that poor child her rights before she was beaten, put in a garbage bag and left for dead.

The three systems - welfare, law enforcement, and judicial - are all connected in the downfall of our society. When one fails, they all fail. The welfare system failed at catching an abusive and psychotic parent. The children and their mother are all stabbed to death in their sleep. The law enforcement system fails to prove its case and the man is given a light sentence. The judicial system fails in the end. Because of overcrowding in jails, the criminal is paroled. The cycle is repeated when that man finds a new family. No one will know he is a convicted murderer. When is it going to end? Our programs need to be changed to prevent more deaths. Children cannot defend themselves. We need to step in and save the children before they become like their parents. We need to stop the merry-go-round before it's too late. ?


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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