Stop the panhandling

Posted on Jun 25 2012

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This is a personal plea to all the parents in the CNMI. Please, for the love of your children, do not allow them to panhandle and beg on highway intersections and sides of streets.

I have heard from many friends who have talked about close calls, where they have witnessed little children almost getting hit by a car while panhandling, and I myself have seen a car slam on its brakes to avoid slamming into a child leaping out to collect a dollar that flew to the side of the road.

Aside from the clear and present danger of putting children along highways with speeding cars and the increasing possibility of injury and death, do we really want to be teaching our children to choose begging and panhandling over fundraising and hard work? What is going on here?

Children are not only panhandling, but they are becoming aggressive in the way they panhandle. They sometimes come right up to your window and knock on it, or shout at you when you don’t give them any money. My 7-year-old daughter asked me why the Little League All-Stars were begging for money and I told them they needed money to go on a trip. Then she asked, “Why don’t they do a lemonade stand or a bake sale? I would do that if I needed some money.” She was absolutely right. When I was growing up on this island and we had to raise funds, we did car washes, bake sales, solicited corporate sponsors and did beach cleanups, mowed and bush-cut lawns, sold raffle name it, we did it. There is no way any of us would ever panhandle. It was just not an option and something our parents would never allow us to do.

Have we ever stopped to think of the impact panhandling has on our tourism industry? When tourists see little children begging on every single intersection on our island, they probably think, “Wow, this is a Third World country.” I am pretty sure this doesn’t paint a pretty picture for our islands and does not bode well with potential investors.

I am addressing this letter to all parents of the CNMI, not our leaders. That would be a waste of time. You see, our leaders are too busy doing what they do best: lying, deceiving, and holding campaign rallies to place all the blame of today’s problems on the tooth fairy and everyone else, except of course on themselves. So there is no way they would draft and pass a bill that would ban little children from panhandling on the streets because that might be controversial and doing the right thing might cost them a few votes. Therefore it is up to these children’s parents to stop them from doing this. Please, do not wait until a child gets injured or killed. Let’s stop this madness immediately.

Parents, if your able-bodied, healthy children want to go on a trip, then pot fabot, have them work for it. And if they do not come up with the needed funds to go on that trip, then it is a heartbreaking lesson in life that they must work harder next year. Plan ahead and hold fundraisers at the beginning of the year. Have every parent get involved and pledge to help. Open up a phonebook and seek corporate sponsors. I am sure there are a ton of businesses who will donate if they see our youth cleaning up the sides of the streets and beautifying our island.

I apologize for writing about this and being so blunt, because I know it is a very sensitive issue. But we must safeguard children and teach them that the last place they should be is in the middle of a small island on a highway where cars are traveling in excess of 40 miles per hour. We must also remind our kids that if you really want something in life, you must work for it, not beg for it.

Ed Propst
Dandan, Saipan

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