Capital Commentary is a weekly current-affairs publication of the Center for Public Justice. Published since 1996, it is written to encourage the pursuit of justice. Commentaries do not necessarily represent an official position of the Center for Public Justice but are intended to help advance discussion.
Championing Our Kids
by Michael J. Gerson

Article Summary: 

In this article, Michael Gerson takes a closer look at a powerful new book by Robert Putnam entitled Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis. Putnam shows how a nation once divided between north and south has become bifurcated by a line of class, and a single society has become two different worlds of opportunity. He explores these worlds of opportunity through compelling case studies, gathered from hundreds of interviews in low and higher income families. All of the economic, social, and cultural trends that he describes are experienced by children as one thing: the absence of responsible, loving, consistent adults in their lives. Our Kids reveals a national crisis of child neglect and emotional abandonment. 

Putnam’s case studies reveal children who are radically disconnected from structures of nurture, the consequences of which can lead to deficits in brain development and problems in social adjustment. These kids often start the education process already behind. Many of the children he highlights feel a pervasive sense of abandonment, and have accumulated a heavy burden of suspicion and distrust, crippling their abilities to become thriving and responsible adults.

In his discussion of this crisis, Putnam does more than present a social scientific case. He urges social solidarity and calls America to a moral ideal of inclusion. He offers a comprehensive picture of our social and economic crisis that both includes and challenges the whole spectrum of American ideology. In doing so, he hopes that many will be drawn to the cause of championing our kids.