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What some readers want to know about child poverty: Why do homeless people have kids?

What some readers want to know about child poverty: Why do homeless people have kids?
Brenda Salgado leaves her motel room in North Hills to take her children to school in Pacoima on Sept. 18. (Los Angeles Times)

You can’t blame children for their poverty. Even the most ideologically hardened capitalist would concede that young people who are in school and in most cases are prohibited by law from working full time bear no responsibility for their economic misfortune and are therefore entitled to government assistance.

But people can and do blame parents for having children at all — which is exactly what several readers did in response to Steve Lopez’s first column in his four-part series this week exploring wrenching poverty in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

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The vast majority of letters responding to the series expressed deep dismay over young children in a city of immense wealth like Los Angeles living in garages or motel rooms. But the subject of Lopez’s first column — a young mother with four children — elicited hardly any sympathy at all from readers, nor even wishes that her situation would improve.

Joanna Drury of Encino calls for better education about birth control:

I was deeply disturbed by Lopez’s column about Brenda Salgado, 29, and her four children living in motel rooms. My heart breaks for the children because they had no choice in the matter and are faced with the consequences of Salgado’s behavior.

We, as a civilized society, have an obligation to help those children, but the greater question is how do we teach women about birth control and making wise decisions? We shouldn’t judge women whose behavior is prescribed by their situations or religious beliefs, yet I am very angry that they don’t realize what misery is prescribed for their unborn children.

Kenny Goldberg of Valley Center, Calif., draws distinctions between the mother’s hardships:

The protagonist in Lopez’s story was abused as a child and spent time in juvenile hall and rehab. So it’s understandable that she is struggling as an adult.

What seems like the inadequate handling of her trauma is a failure of our social services. But what about her own failure to limit the number of children that she could financially support?

Chino Hills resident Mark Walker puts some of the blame on feminists:

This mother is 29 years old and has four children. She has no job, and the kids’ father does not live with her.

If one were honest, one would ask why did she have four children at such a young age? If one were honest, one would ask why did she keep having babies with a man who has “problems of his own”? As far as I can tell, this person created her own mess and is responsible for her own situation.

Feminists have failed regular American women and will continue to do so until they help women like Salgado make better personal choices, including getting an education, getting a job and getting married before having children.

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