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No state legislation can replace good parenting

There is no legislation that can be as effective as good parenting.

We have generations of kids who have lousy parents, who aren’t taught good social skills or life skills.

In addressing the record level of gun violence in 2020, state Assemblyman Jesse Gabriel, a Woodland Hills Democrat, has a bill to leverage federal funds to expand what is called Hospital-Based Violence Intervention Services. That’s where those who come into the hospital all shot up – if they survive – sit on the patient’s bed and are told things their parents should have told them.

Gabriel notes that gun violence spiked in 2020, with gun homicides and non-suicide-related shootings taking approximately 19,300 lives — a 25 percent increase from 2019. Early data on 2021 shows it to be on pace as the worst year for gun violence in decades, surpassing even the high levels of 2020.

I think Sacramento and our governor bears a great deal of responsibility for gun violence with their incessant locking down life and schools as we know it. People are social and when you lock them down, they can act out.

Assembly Bill (AB) 1929 would provide Medi-Cal reimbursement for Hospital-Based Violence Intervention Programs (HVIPs).

Gabriel’s office dispensed a bunch of statistics about how studies have shown that up to 41 percent of inner city patients treated for violent injuries, such as shootings are re-injured within five years. Not surprising. When you’re living the lifestyle it’s going to catch up to you. One survey of victims of violence at a five-year follow-up found that 20 percent of patients treated for violent injury had eventually died.

Being the victim of violence significantly increases a person’s likelihood of engaging in violent behaviors against others, often as retaliation for the initial injury.

Like my pastor used to repeat all the time: hurting people hurt people.

I’m not opposed to programs that seek to reduce rates of violence. But in my opinion, effective churches with great outreach have turned hearts in a kinder direction.

Our government began tearing apart families in the black community through policies in the 1960s that discouraged males (fathers) from staying in the home. As stated here many times, children who grow up without a father face greater odds of violence. In a speech for Father’s Day 2008, Barack Obama was emphatic in championing fatherhood: “We know the statistics - that children who grow up without a father are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime; nine times more likely to drop out of schools and 20 times more likely to end up in prison. They are more likely to have behavioral problems, or run away from home, or become teenage parents themselves. And the foundations of our community are weaker because of it.”

Even former Stanislaus County CEO Stan Risen in 2016 shared a number of startling statistics about fatherlessness, including that:

• 43 percent of U.S. children live without a father in the home;

• 63 percent of suicides are from fatherless homes;

• 71 percent of pregnant teens lack a father in the home;

• 71 percent of high school dropouts come from homes without dads;

• 85 percent of prison use is tied to those who grew up in fatherless homes;

• 90 percent of homeless and runaway children come from fatherless homes.

The national discourse focuses a lot on guns as the reason for gun violence and racism as the root of poverty in black America. But if we’re honest we’ll take a serious look at the chief cause: fatherless households and bad parenting.

* * * * *

I knew this bill came from a Democrat without even looking to see the name of the author.

The deadline in the Sacramento Bee, “A bill of rights for cats and dogs? California lawmakers are considering one,” piqued my interest.

I am one who absolutely believes in being kind to dogs and cats. I hate to see any animal mistreated and we have laws against animal cruelty. But to one Democrat state legislator who has too much time on his hands, animals and humans are on such a level plane in the order of Creation that they need a Bill of Rights.

The Bible is pretty clear: God made his creation in order, with Him at the top, angelic beings next down, humans and then animals – for whom he gave us dominion.

But Assemblyman Miguel Santiago, D-Los Angeles, wants the state to give cats and dogs a Bill of Rights. Those “rights,” as he sees it, are the freedom from exploitation, cruelty, neglect and abuse; a life of comfort, free of fear and anxiety; daily mental stimulation and appropriate exercise; nutritious food, sanitary water and shelter in an appropriate and safe environment; preventive and therapeutic health care; proper identification through tags, microchips or other humane means; and spaying and neutering to prevent unwanted litters.

I suppose this means animals cannot be subjected, legally, to the loud explosions of the Fourth of July because it violates their right to be free of anxiety. I like, too, how he slips in the “you must get your pets spayed or neutered” demand. And by golly, if you’re tired after a long day of work, that dog has a “right” to go for a walk because as Santiago puts it. “Cruelty can also be not taking a dog out and walking him, socializing him and spending time with him.  No good American would ever want to violate a dog’s “right.”

Judie Mancuso, founder and president of the animal advocacy group Social Compassion in Legislation, said, “As stated in the bill, dogs and cats have the right to be respected as sentient beings that experience complex feelings that are common among living animals...”

I’m curious how Mancuso thinks dogs and cats experience “complex feelings.”

Santiago claims his bill is intended to be “educational” for pet owners who might otherwise be unaware of their pets’ needs. Well then have a dialogue for crying out loud, but a $250 fine for each time that a pet shelter and rescue groups fails to post a copy of their stupid bill of rights?

How about Sacramento focus on REAL problems like the lack of housing and homelessness and crime and drugs and illegal immigration? 

Don’t get me wrong. Pet owners need to be responsible and treat their pets the best they can. But a silly Bill of Rights?

* * * * *

It was sadness that I returned from a very short vacation to Southern California to learn that Allita Algeo has passed away. We have a front page story on Allita.

She was always a very friendly face the times I showed up at functions and photo-ops with the Ceres Women’s Club. When I think of her I think of her in her red vest which members wear.

Her death just reinforces what I know: life is too short.

This column is the opinion of Jeff Benziger, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Ceres Courier or 209 Multimedia Corporation. How do you feel about this? Let Jeff know at