“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.”-Nelson Mandela
As we come upon the second anniversary of The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, my mind has been on recent events in our country and world. It seems that in a time when we are advancing in technology and science, we have made very little progress in protecting the lives of children. According to MotherJones.com, there has been a fatal school shooting every five weeks since Sandy Hook. Unicef recently reported that 2014 was one of the most brutal years for children. The National Center on Family Homelessness at American Institutes for Research reported that child homelessness was at a historic high between 2012 and 2013.
If, as President Herbert Hoover stated, “children are our most valuable resources”, why aren’t we investing our time to ensure that they are well cared for and protected. Yes, some of the unfortunate events are out of our control, but why aren’t we more outraged about the future, safety and well-being of children? Children are the most vulnerable people in our society and child safety should be a top priority. We have a global problem of children living in unhealthy conditions, being subjected to abuse, neglect, violence, poor healthcare, etc.
Since few of us live in a community where we know and trust our neighbors, children no longer have an in-person support network. I won’t dismiss the power of an online network because I have witnessed how many online communities have rallied and supported families and children. The problem is that sometimes as adults we get caught up in our needs and our opinions that we lose sight of what is important.
With the recent shootings and deaths of unarmed black boys and men, we are now in a 21st century civil rights movement that is bringing racial tension in our country to a boiling point. Protestations and die-ins in various cities are a cry for attention to what President Obama has stated as “deep rooted racism” in our country. As our children observe how we react and respond to what is happening nationally and globally, they are looking to us for answers and guidance. If we are not demonstrating empathy, how will we leave a generation of caring adults?
We will always live in a imperfect world but this doesn’t mean that we do not have to do our share to create a more peaceful and loving world for children. Children need to see adults behaving in ways that show leadership, compassion and integrity. Children need to believe that they are valuable and that they are loving adults who care about them.
The way in which we provide a village may have evolved but it can still be effective. If we invest the time we spend on social media to create powerful conversations about what children need from us, we can start to change some of the unfortunate situations in which children live.