Putting negative labels on people can be harmful because they can become self-fulfilling prophecies.
And this is why society sets standards for labels it considers socially acceptable. It's why few today use the label "poor" to describe children who are in poverty situations. Those terms were replaced over time with "disadvantaged" and, more recently, "at risk."
But Sen. Rosa Franklin, D-Tacoma, apparently believes these euphemisms are no longer acceptable. She wants to replace them with the term "at hope."
She isn't content to let words evolve in society. Franklin has proposed legislation to replace the words "disadvantaged" and "at risk" with "at hope" in the 54 places in state law were they are used.
The proposal is ridiculous. It's a waste of time and money.
Lawmakers convened in Olympia on Monday for a 60 day session in which they have to figure out how to fill a $2.6 billion gap in the state budget. It's absurd that even one second is being wasted on this nonsense.
Yet, Franklin has been promised the bill would get a hearing and actually has support in her party.
Making this change to the state's laws is unnecessary. The term "disadvantaged," while not used often anymore, is not necessarily a negative term nor is it offensive. The term "at risk" is perfectly acceptable and it seems to be accurate. Children who live in poverty situations are at risk of many things -- dropping out of school, getting involved with drugs and gangs, etc.
No, that doesn't mean those who live in middle class or wealthy homes aren't at risk of having those same problems. They certainly are, but the risk simply isn't as great. This is why state and federal governments have programs in place to provide help for lower-income -- or "at risk" -- kids.
The term "at hope" misses the mark. Frankly, every person in the state is "at hope." Don't we all hope for more, for something better?
Wally Endicott, the northwest director of the Phoenix-based Children of Hope, told The Associated Press he was not thrilled with the idea of using "children at hope" to refer just to the disadvantaged. All children, not just those in poverty, have obstacles to their success, he said.
And if the wording in laws were changed to "at hope" it would prompt folks to ask what that means. The answer given would, of course, be poor kids rather than "at risk" or "disadvantaged." What have we gained?
Franklin is moving in the wrong direction with this misguided piece of legislation.