I saw this statement on my Facebook page this morning. “I think of you as the woman who saves children. Thank you.” What a humbling statement that was for me! What an honor to be thought of in that way!
The truth is, though, that I have felt like a dismal failure at saving children. I have never forgotten the words said to me by a young victim of child abuse, “Why should I tell you anything? You can’t protect me. My father will find out I told and that will just make it worse.”
And tragically, his words were true. No matter what we tried to do, we couldn’t protect him from his abusive father. The abuse continued for many years and had a devastating impact on this child. The harm continues even now that the child is eighteen and far away from his father.
Children are harmed every day in this country that should offer protection for its children. Consider these statistics:
– In 2014, 15.5 million or approximately 21 percent of children in the U.S. lived in poverty. (feedingamerica.org)
– 15.3 million children lived in food-insecure households in 2014.(feedingamerica.org)
– Every year more than 3 million reports of child abuse are made in the United States involving more than 6 million children. (Childhelp USA)
– Children Die Every Day From Abuse or Neglect. In 2005, an estimated 1,460 children died as a result of abuse or neglect (USDHHS, 2007). Almost 76.6 percent of these children were 3 years of age or younger. Most child fatalities (76.6 percent) happened at the hands of parents (USDHHS, 2007).
– The United States has one of the worst records among industrialized nations – losing on average between four and seven children every day to child abuse and neglect. (Childhelp USA)
– A report of child abuse is made every ten seconds. (Childhelp USA)
– More than 70% of the children who died as a result of child abuse or neglect were two years of age or younger. More than 80% were not yet old enough for kindergarten. (Childhelp USA)
– 80% of child maltreatment fatalities involve at least one parent as perpetrator. (Childhelp USA)
– 555 children under 12 have been killed by firearms in the three years since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, on Dec. 14, 201
There are so many more statistics that should shame us. there is so much that God wants us to do to protect the children. Yet, often we turn a blind eye to the tragedies around us. I cannot help but recall this Scripture:
And whoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the depths of the sea. (Mark 9:42)
May we all be convicted of our failure to protect our children. May we search deep within and call out our better selves to save our children, all of God’s children.