Endangered children exist in every culture, geographical location, and walks of life. The news often gives horrific accounts of family members who commit crimes that include parents violating the humanness with unimaginable punishments of their children, intolerable family conflicts that may include domestic violence, kidnapping, sexual abuse, and sex trafficking. There are a number of incidences everyday that demonstrate atrocities of how our children are becoming gravely endangered.
A former army soldier committed horrendous acts against a 5-year old by repeatedly punching, withholding food, restraining her to the bed, and requiring her to consume her feces, which eventually resulted in her death.
Another situation that appeared in the media discussed a mother, who was on drugs, left her 3, 7, and 11 year old children locked in their home alone to care for themselves. The school personnel noticed the change in the children’s hygiene and behavior.
In a home in Georgia, an estranged father shoot and killed family members which included children. In another home, a gun was left unsecured where a six year old neighbor child was killed. Parents residing in another part of the country lived a life of enjoying marijuana, methamphetamine, and pornography. Everything could be easily accessed by a 10-year old son and six-year old daughter. Endangered children are unsafe children.
The number of children being sexually assaulted during their childhood and adolescent years is increasing. It was reported from the National Center for Missing and Exploited children in 2014 that one in six runaways appeared to be involved in sex trafficking rings. All these cited incidences provide heart-breaking stories of how our endangered children are coping in a world that exploits their childhood.
Being a parent is time consuming, and, at times challenging. There are so many necessary roles – teacher, role model, guidance counselor, program director, chef, and above all, protector.
Parenting may be difficult, time consuming, and often challenging. Nevertheless, we can applaud the dad who can look at his down-syndrome child and confirm his commitment to this youngster despite the child’s mother’s decision to abandon him and the father as well. There is considerable admiration due to a parent who dutifully performs the milieu of tasks to create a healthy and happy environment for a handicapped child.
Some parents advocate for their children even when they cannot be present. A teenager in Alaska chose adoption for her baby but continued to send breast milk to the parents who adopted her child to ensure the child would receive nutrients and antibodies from her.
Endangered children desperately need committed adults, especially those who will fill loving, caring parental shoes. We need family members who understand and apply the principle, “It takes a village to raise a child.”
We need skilled professionals who will work collaboratively with parents and the community to reach out to our children with addictive behaviors and promote vocational skills, create effective programs that promote the healing process of child abused and neglected, increase the number of adults who are willing to be trained in skills that will allow them to be effective foster parents. Endangered children deserve adequate guidance and protection from many adults in that are in the home and live in the community.
By Marie A. Wakefield