This sad story was reported in the Charlotte Observer on August 20th. I read the headline and thought, "That's sad," and then moved on to other news.
Today, there was another article about Ashante titled, "A Troubled Past, An Early Death." And, in reading the article, I found a perfect example of what's wrong with our society today.
Ashante's family gave up custody of her when she was twelve, saying that she was out of control. She spent time in group homes and foster families, but had a record of consistently running away. But here's the kicker: "Now her family members wonder why authorities didn't do more to prevent their daughter from running away, or track her down before she was killed. 'She wasn't in New York, she wasn't in California, she was right here in Charlotte,' said her aunt. 'Her mother tried to get help for her. Social Services is supposed to help you out when you have children and need help.'"
Whoa... back up the truck a minute! These people are this girl's family. Yes, family! And they gave her up to the state saying, essentially, "I can't take care of this kid anymore. She's out of control, I don't know how to control her, and I've had enough. YOU do it." She consistently ran away from every environment in which the state placed her (calling home occasionally to let them know that she was alright). Now that she's no longer alright, the family wants to know why the state didn't do more? What should they have done? I can guarantee that the state cannot do more to love your children than you can. And while there is a system in place, that system is notoriously imperfect.
I'm not judging this family for giving up custody of a child they couldn't handle. Not ever having been in the stressful position of trying to raise a truly out of control child, I wouldn't dare to suggest options for them. I honestly have no clue. But this assumption that the state could and should do better than we as individual citizens is a dangerous one.
And it sounds a lot like what I hear coming from many liberal circles... The state should take care of health care - the state should make sure every child can go to college - the state should, the state should, the state should. It's irresponsible to just hand over our freedoms so that we can have the "protection" of the state.
Once we hand over the custody of our freedom to the state, we give up control. It might sound nice to have somebody else responsible for our children, for our healthcare, for our education, for the price of our gasoline and groceries, etc... But with somebody else responsible, we lack the ability to make a change to our situation. State-controlled health care? What happens when somebody is ill and the state decides it's not worth the cost to care for them? What happens when the public education system is failing and there are few options available beyond that system?
I'm sad for Ashante's family. They are grieving the loss of a loved one. But blaming the state seems to me a bit irrational. Not that they're not entitled to a bit of irrational thought in their grief.