Children, Our Most Precious Commodity

When I was ten my mother and father had their fifth child, a little girl named Jeanne. Mom must have been tired of raising kids. She’d had four in four years and then took a break until Jeanne was born nine years later. I think she must have started saying no to my dad after that fourth one and then they slipped and had Jeanne. After that, he must have been told no for good, which is probably why he turned to me. This scourge happens in many Catholic families, probably in other religiously regimented households as well. Mom turned Jeanne over to me and so I became a mother at the age of ten. Jeanne thought while she was growing up that I was her mother. Getting up in the middle of the night with her to change her pants, warm her bottle of milk and sing to her while I rocked and fed her, encouraged something in me, the need to nurture. I have loved kids ever since.

You have to have a license to drive a car. You don’t have to have one to be a parent. How many times have you heard that comment? A twelve year old can be a parent. That’s scary. Although those of us who love our children try to be a good parent, we all fall short in some way. It is the toughest job in the world. You can’t just feed and clothe them. You have to nurture them, let them know how much you love them and yes, you have to instill character in them. You have to teach them how to be honest, hard-working, have personal integrity, develop wisdom, be a devoted friend and how to be optimistic about their dreams, believe in themselves. There’s a long list.

As per Child Help USA the estimated child fatalities per day attributed to maltreatment has risen from 3.6 in the year 2000 to 4.5 in 2012. They say, “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. Every year more than 3 million reports of child abuse are made in the United States involving more than 6 million children.” For more of Child Help USA’s statistics please go to: www.childhelp.org/child-abuse-statistics/.

This is only “reported” incidents. We all know it is the tip of the iceberg. Most child sexual abuse that happens is never reported. Although these children begin their decline at the moment of the abuse, they often don’t attribute any problems that arise afterward to it. The seriousness manifests itself once they grow into adulthood and begin having even more problems. Even then, they try to minimize, deny and ignore any correlation between behavior problems they have and their abuse. I have had women in their 80s email me to say that they have just now realized that their life turned into a nightmare because of the child sexual abuse they suffered.

About 30% of abused and neglected children will later abuse their own children, continuing the horrible cycle of abuse. Children of an untreated child sexual abuse victim stand a five times greater chance of being abused themselves.

To see statistics from the Ark of Hope on child sexual abuse, please go to the home page of the Lamplighter Movement at http://www.thelamplighters.org.

 

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