Prisons make poor parents

Prison for poor parenting

Prince George’s County in Maryland began cracking down over the weekend on parents who have not taken the necessary steps to get their children the necessary vaccinations to attend public school. Nearly 2,300 students in a 132,000-student district public school system did not have the up-to-date shots for polio, mumps, measles, hepatitis B and chicken pox, and were therefore temporarily barred from attending school.

In many cases, it was a matter of misunderstanding and the schools not being equipped with the most recent information. But days after the court notified parents, just about half the group still did not meet the requirements. It is easy to think that the fact or even the threat of one’s children being prohibited from attending school would be enough motivation. However, in order to see results, the county applied laws similar to those for truancy to not vaccinating your children: facing parents with the threat of 10 days jail time or a $50 a day fine.

Is this the only way to ensure that parents are taking care of their children? Don’t parents take the initiative to vaccinate their kids in order to prevent them from suffering from horrible illnesses? It seems simply irresponsible that parents require the firm hand of the law to get them to take care of their children’s health.

Certainly, lack of vaccinations can be attributed in many cases to an inability to pay for them. According to statistics from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the average cost to immunize a child under the age of 18 in 2006 was approximately $670 – up from $12 in 1975. But along with the most stringent penalty, Prince George’s County offered complete support, with vaccines being provided for free by the school system. There is simply no excuse.

However, it seems ridiculous that a law of that magnitude is deemed necessary to get parents to vaccinate their children. With so many more serious issues that go unnoticed, vaccinations are one of the less significant issues of bad parenting. But what happens to these kids when their parents get a week’s vacation in jail, and how do official expect them to get them vaccinated from behind bars? Threats may have a big impact on getting parents to pay attention, but it seems so excessive that it’s really a ruling to laugh at, not commend for its strict stance on promoting health care.

Staff Editorial Daily Targum Rutgers U-Wire