Welfare-to-Work Responsible for Child's Death?.
In his documentary about gun violence in the United States, Bowling for Columbine, Director/Producer Michael Moore seemingly implied that the government has the greater responsibility for the shooting of a six-year-old little girl, Kayla Rolland, by a six-year-old little boy, Dedrick Owens. Kayla Rolland and Dedrick Owens were classmates in the first grade at Buell Elementary in Beecher, Michigan. On February 29, 2000, Dedrick took a gun from his uncle's home, where his family had been living, and took it with him to school where he shot Kayla over an argument they had had the previous day. The shooting resulted in Kayla's death.
Dedrick's mother, Tamarla Owens, had been a welfare recipient, and as such, was participating in Michigan's Welfare-to-Work program (WtW). In the movie, Moore and others made several inflammatory comments that insinuated the WtW program contributed to Kayla Rolland's death. We believe many of these comments to be outright lies or omissions of truth in order to divert attention away from those really responsible - the child's parents.
Moore's claims regarding WtW are as follows: it forced Owens to get a job if she wanted continued benefits, such as foods stamps and health care; she was required to "work off" the welfare money the state had previously given her; despite working up to seventy hours per week, she could not afford to pay her rent; unable to pay her rent, she was forced to live with her brother, who owned a handgun; due to the busy work schedule forced upon her by the state, she was unable to supervise her child; due to a lack of supervision, her son was able to take the handgun to school and shoot Kayla.
Let us try to reason out the state's culpability, using Moore's logic. If the state did not have the WtW program, using only her welfare benefit along with food stamps and Medicaid, Owens would have been able to afford her rent; she would not have moved in with her brother where a handgun was available; she would have not only had the time to properly supervise her child, she surely would have done so and in a responsible manner.