Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to respond. There are ways we can ensure 10 and 11 year old children, children who are usually in grades four and five, are dealt with when they commit crimes. I say commit crimes but they are not committing crimes, they are behaving badly. The member asked how we can remedy that. The suggestion came from his own party. It was a commendable suggestion by the member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca who talked about a head start program.
We talk about ending child poverty in this country. Unfortunately in the race to balance books, in the race to cut deficit, in the race to the bottom we have increased child poverty in this country by 50%.
I know we say it over and over. I know members are tired of hearing it, but when we talk about increasing child poverty by 50%, the faces of that child poverty are the 10 and 11 year olds referred to by the member who asked the question.
The reality is that children who do not have adequate food, who do not have support at home for whatever reason, are children who fall between the cracks and commit crimes. That is why we need at the provincial level adequate social services such as a head start program, such as increased support for families and for single mothers, to ensure those children have both the monetary and emotional support they need.
Sometimes I am puzzled at why some people take various stands on things. That is why we have guidelines in terms of maintenance support under divorce legislation. It is a way of trying to ensure that young people have the necessary support to grow up healthy, to grow up with respect for society and to be accountable for their behaviour.
We need to improve schools. We have a crisis in education across the country. Governments are cutting back on teachers. All this is happening to some extent, especially in the poorer provinces, because the federal government has cut back money to the poorer provinces. When it comes time for education, teachers who are on the front line and understand perhaps more than anyone when children are falling through the cracks do not have adequate resources. We have kids going to school without sufficient learning tools.
There are many ways we can address the problem of 10 and 11 year old children who fall through the cracks. The way to do it is to help families through social services, not through the criminal code.