My Voice: Why Parents should take a Parenting Test

“Arizona Woman Charged with Murder in Disturbing Killings of 3 Children,” read the headline of a Jan. 28 article this year. 

“A 22-year-old Arizona woman was charged Tuesday with the death of her three children, who she allegedly smothered to death before arranging them on the living room sofa in a napping position. Rachel Henry is facing three counts of first-degree murder after authorities say she admitted to them in a police interview that she had smothered her 3-year-old son, and her 2-year-old and 7-month-old daughters…” read the article.

How many times have you read a story like this? The correct answer is too many. 

Unfortunately, in the United States, a story like this is not uncommon. According to the National Children’s Alliance, nearly 700,000 children are abused in the US annually. In this context, abuse includes neglect, filicide, physical abuse and sexual abuse. Additionally, the source confirms that parents are the abusers of children in about 78.1% of documented cases of child abuse. 

This is unacceptable. 

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Though I believe justice should always be served, locking up the perpetrators who commit these repulsive crimes is not nearly enough. The only way to decrease the number of children abused is to get to the root of the problem: the parents. 

I believe an effective solution to this crisis would be to enact a policy that requires potential parents to take a set of parenting classes, then pass a written test, a background check, and a home inspection test. Only after passing these requirements should a parent qualify to care for a child. These measures may seem extreme, but considering the statistics mentioned above, I think it’s necessary. At the very least parents should be obligated to take a set of parenting classes. 

Requiring a test to become a parent is not an unreasonable idea. We are not born with the knowledge of how to care for a child. Besides, think of all the other tests we have to pass before we’re permitted to do something. We have to pass driving tests to operate vehicles, but not a parenting test to care for a child?

Couples are screened before they can adopt children, so how is this any different? If we’re going off of the “my body, my choice” logic, then why are abortions so strictly monitored?

There is no real reason why a policy like this shouldn’t be implemented. Being a parent is one of the biggest responsibilities anyone could ever have, and it’s important that we recognize this and act accordingly. 

Possible questions for the test could include: What should you do if a baby is crying? How often should a child be fed? Where should a child sleep? What are the appropriate ways to discipline a child? The test questions would not be difficult, they would simply identify if a parent is able to recognize and meet the needs of their child.

A background check would be used to determine if a parent has any criminal history or mental health issues. It would also ensure that the parent is financially stable and able to support a child. Furthermore, a home inspection test would confirm that there are no drugs or guns in the household and that the child is coming home to a safe and clean environment.

Putting these measures in place would not be a matter of taking away a parent’s right to have a child, rather, it would be about eliminating the crisis we have on our hands. All children deserve a chance at life.  

Kayleigh DeLaet

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