What abuse and neglect costs these children physically and psychologically is even more tragic.
In 1996, a little girl was kidnapped not far from where we live. She was only seven years old and she was playing outside in front of her apartment complex when someone pulled up in a van, snatched her, and sped away. She was found dead a few weeks later about forty miles from where she was taken. Her killer has never been found.
When this incident took place, my daughter Rachel was between ten and eleven years old. Every day and night the kidnapping story was on the news and it terrified Rachel. She had trouble sleeping at night and worried constantly that she would be kidnapped. We eventually had a security system installed; and, over a period of time, Rachel gradually began to sleep better. The little girl who was kidnapped and killed wouldn't have been safer playing in her yard even if her mother had installed a security system. And while I'm glad that Rachel finally slept better, I know that parents of missing children will never have another peaceful night's rest.
On August 8, 2005, I became a grandmother for the first time. I was able to be in the room when my grand-daughter was born. Out in the hall, just outside the doorway, were about 20 friends and relatives ... all awaiting little Abigail's birth ... all waiting to love her. Wouldn't it be wonderful if every baby born in our world had so many people just waiting to love them? Wouldn't it be wonderful if no child was ever neglected or abused?
Jesus said, "Don't be cruel to any of these little ones! I promise you that their angels are always with my Father in heaven." (Matthew 18:10 CEV)
Our heavenly Father loves all children — spiritual and physical — and sends his angels to watch over them. While we can't stop abuse and neglect, as Christians we can assist the angels and watch over the children we come in contact with. If we see anything unusual or suspicious, we can report it to the proper authorities. And we can pray daily for all children everywhere, that they come to know Jesus and that we as Christians will be willing to share our money and resources with agencies and services who try to meet the basic needs of millions of children all over the world.
Martin Luther King, Jr. once made a crucial point based on the Bible story of the good Samaritan:
The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: "If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?" But ... the good Samaritan reversed the question: "If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?"
Maybe we should ask ourselves, "What will happen to the children of the world if we don't take time to help them?"
Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, TWIST Data 2003.
Prevent Child Abuse America, 2001.