Is a Society That Disregards Children Civilized?

Some years ago, my wife and I went on two church trips. First, we went to New York City to work with a children’s ministry based in a distressed section of Brooklyn. As previously reported, we found the average child to be living in appalling conditions.

In some areas, young children consistently had black, rotten baby teeth. The children were essentially taking care of themselves. The main problem was that their parents were either physically absent or totally absorbed with their own issues. The reason for all of this chaos was drug addiction and the crime that it causes.

We left with a real heaviness in our hearts for the children that were there. We were perplexed at how the largest population center in our great country could be in such bedlam.

A few weeks later, we took a group of young people from our church to a city just across the Mexican border. While there, we conducted a Vacation Bible School in a very poor, rural area. The people were literally squatters as their homes were located in a railroad right-of-way between a landowner’s fence and train tracks. They lived in extremely small, one room houses that consisted of concrete block walls, tin roofs, and dirt floors. There was no running water.

In spite of these conditions, the children were well dressed in perfectly clean clothes. They looked healthy and had perfect teeth. The children were very impoverished, but safe. They were never out of the sight of a parent. The Mexican children did not need a governmental agency to come and rescue them. In New York, there were thousands of children that were being grossly neglected and abused.

When Nancy and I had a chance to think about the two trips, we could not help but wonder why the people in Mexico were so concerned for their children and why the people in Brooklyn had a total disregard for theirs. The drug problem was an obvious choice. But, there seems to be a moral breakdown in our country that defies any standard of conduct. A society that ignores the welfare of its young is not civilized.

I have no solutions for this problem. Your comments are welcome.

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