700+ Children a Day
National Child Abuse Prevention Month
When someone says “abuse and neglect,” what comes to your mind? Do you recall a statistic you’ve heard? Do you picture a child’s face? Do you feel burdened or maybe helpless? Do you feel a sense of righteous indignation swelling up? If we talk about it long enough, most of us will begin to feel uncomfortable. It makes us squirm to think too long about the pain children are experiencing daily in our own backyard. But that’s okay! We need to be uncomfortable. It’s our discomfort that drives us to do something about it! We have been asked multiple times, “How are children being affected during this time of shelter-in-place?” Being that April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, it seems like a fitting time to answer that question.
We want to share a story. Each of you will have a different response to it and that’s expected. As you read it, allow yourself to feel the hurt in each word. God will use those feelings for His good.
“School is out and Cameron is home all day. Most kids would delight in the freedom that brings. They would enjoy sleeping in, video games, bike riding, and binge-watching Marvel movies or the like. It’s why our kids love snow days, spring break, and summer vacation! But for Cameron, extended time at home brings a deep feeling of dread. Without school breakfast and lunch, pangs of hunger fill his day. Repeated trips to the fridge and pantry reveal nothing new. Just the same expired milk, a half-empty jar of peanut butter, and stale ramen. But the hunger is bearable compared to the turmoil coming from his drug-dependent mother and her alcoholic boyfriend. The yelling doesn’t stop until they pass out. At that point he’s alone…just the sound of the finicky A/C and the sirens outside to keep him company, but at least he knows he won’t be hurt. At least he knows that until they wake he won’t be slapped, kicked, or berated. He loves his mom and he’s pretty sure she loves him too. He excuses her violence because he knows the kind of life she’s had and the obstacles she’s faced. But even still, he can’t wait to get back to school, despite his aggressive aversion to algebra. Failing grades and all, school is his safe haven.”
This parable of Cameron relates to hundreds of thousands of hurting children in our country.
The sobering truth is that 700 children enter the foster care system daily.
The sobering truth is that last year, an estimated 678,000 children were found to be victims of child abuse or neglect nationwide.
The sobering truth is that when school is out, abuse hotline calls decrease but abuse itself does not.
And, Church, we can’t stand idly by! Hurting children need us. To ignore them in their pain is as bad as inflicting it. We need to take a stand!
Pause and take a deep breath. This is heavy, but we have hope! We know from scriptures like Exodus 22:22-24, Psalm 146:9, Psalm 68:5-6, and James 1:27 that caring for the fatherless and the marginalized is close to the Father’s heart. He is calling us to bring help where there is harm, healing where there is hurt, and Godly affection where there is abuse.
We may feel like our hands are tied because of the uniqueness of this season, but praise God our prayers aren’t! Let me encourage you with this truth: prayer is not our last resort, but our first line of defense. In the middle of this Abuse Prevention Month, we are calling you to prayer!
- Pray for the children in our backyard who are victims of abuse and neglect.
- Pray for the children in our backyard who are food insecure.
- Pray for at-risk families as they navigate the stress of job loss, financial crisis, and a sudden lack of childcare.
- Pray for the workers on the frontline who are doing their best to manage caseloads and recruit foster families.
- Pray for God to give the Church clarity on how to respond in such a crucial time.
Thank you for your passion for hurting children! Thank you for your faithfulness in prayer. As we become aware of more ways local churches can stand up for children during this time, we will keep you informed. Because we believe through Jesus Christ, the local church is the hope of the world!
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