May has been designated by the State Ethics & Religious Liberty Committee as Child Abuse Awareness Month for Oklahoma Baptists. Are we really aware of the increasing danger to our children? Does the fact that this danger is right in their homes trouble us? The home should be a fortress of security, the first line of defense in a hostile world. But unfortunately, children may find themselves in the gravest of danger.
The Bible declares that children are a gift from God, a heritage. Jesus rebukes His own disciples and encourages the children to come to Him so that He may bless them. It is time for Christian families and churches to take up the cry for the injustice done to our children.
Please take note of these alarming facts:
• According to OKDHS 2008 report, there were confirmed 11,714 victims of child abuse and neglect.
• 84 percent of prison inmates were abused as children.(1)
• One in three girls and one in five boys are sexually abused by an adult at some time during childhood.(1)
• More than 80 percent of abusers are a parent or someone close to a child. Child abuse is far more likely to occur in the child’s home than in a daycare center.(1)
• One in 13 kids with a parent on drugs is physically abused regularly.(1) (Drug and alcohol abuse in the family makes child abuse about twice as likely.)
• Some Myths and Facts About Child Abuse(2):
• Myth: Abused and neglected Children almost always come from poor, minority, and/or inner-city families.
* Fact: There is no evidence that links socioeconomic status, race or educational level to abuse and neglect.
• Myth: Most children are sexually assaulted by a stranger.
* Fact: It is estimated that 80-85 percent of all child sexual assaults are perpetrated by an adult known and trusted by the child.
• Myth: Child abusers are easy to identify.
* Fact: Child abusers cannot be easily distinguished from others, and many offenders are upstanding community citizens.
These facts refer to those cases that are known out of the thousands that are reported. Even more alarming is the truth that many are not reported.
We are all responsible for being aware and doing what we can to protect our children. Visit www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/factsheets/signs.cfm for signs of neglect and/or emotional, physical or sexual abuse.
What else can we do? We can of course pray. Our great God created these precious treasures and has a purpose for their lives. But let us also put shoe leather to our prayers. Here are some actions to take:
1. Take a deep breath. Take a few more. Remember, you are the adult.
2. Press your lips together and count to 20.
3. Put the child in a “time-out” chair for a number of minutes. The rule is one minute for each year of age.
4. Put yourself in a “time-out” chair. Are you really angry at the child or is it something else?
5. Call a friend to talk about it. If you need to, dial 800/4-A-CHILD (National Child Abuse Hotline).
Kids should know their rights. Kids—Nobody, including your parents, can: Hit you hard enough to cause an injury; leave you by yourself for a long time; or force you or tell you to have any kind of sex with anyone.
Anyone who does any of these things has a problem and needs to seek help immediately. If you know a kid who is being hurt physically or sexually, call 800/4-A-CHILD and talk about it. A counselor will tell you just what to do.
As Christians, we know that love is the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Our resources for living and relating must be known and tapped into. The Lord Jesus Christ allowed the children to come to Him for blessing and love. He warned of offending these “little ones.”
Our children are a heritage from God and need our prayers and protection. Let us be aware. Let us be warned. Let us commit ourselves to action that will bring God’s justice to bear upon this alarming situation. Let us not settle for any child being another statistic.