IT IS encouraging to know that child abuse is now acknowledged as a worldwide problem. Such initiatives as the Stockholm Congress Against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children, attended by representatives from 130 countries, have given attention to this problem.
Additionally, some countries are now passing legislation that outlaws sex tourism and child pornography. Some are even setting up a register of known pedophiles, restricting their easy access to children.
Then there are those who seek a better life for children by passing legislation to protect them. And a few more countries and individuals are refusing to buy products manufactured by means of child labor.
While we all no doubt applaud such efforts to rid society of child abuse, we must be realistic and acknowledge that child abuse has very deep roots in human society. It would be naive to think that a simple solution such as legislation will provide complete protection for our children. Many laws have already been passed, and yet the problem persists. It is really an indictment of the world’s delinquent adults that the natural right to childhood has to be protected by a vast array of laws.
Laws are not the ultimate protection for children. We have only to look at the results of such formidable legislation as the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which many governments are signatories. It is well documented that even many of these governments, pushed to the limits by economic constraints, are not doing enough to stop the exploitation of their children. Child abuse continues to be a major international problem.
Parents Can Do Much
Successful parenting is a demanding job. It calls for sacrifice. But caring parents need to make sure that it is not their children who are sacrificed. Maclean’s magazine notes that often “parenting is viewed as if it’s a hobby.” A toy may be discarded or a hobby discontinued, but parenting is a God-given responsibility.
Your being a good parent is one of the most valuable gifts you can give your child, as it will help him to have a happy, secure childhood. Such security does not depend on social or economic status in life. Your child needs you—your love and affection, your assurances when he or she feels threatened, and your time. Your child wants to hear your voice telling stories, wants you as a role model, and wants your loving discipline.
On the subject of sexual morality—parents, conduct your family relationships with modesty and respect for your children’s minds and bodies. Children learn very quickly what actions cross the moral boundaries that parents establish with them. They need to be taught how to conduct themselves both inside and outside the home. If you fail to do this, someone else will do it for you, and you may not like the result. Teach children how to react if they are ever morally threatened. Let them know what their private body parts are for, and teach them that these are not to be violated. Tell them how to react if they are approached by anyone who wants to take advantage of them.
At all times know where your children are and who is with them. Who are your child’s close friends? Who are your child’s caregivers during your absence? Can they be trusted? That does not mean, of course, that a parent has to be suspicious of everyone. Make a proper assessment of the adults in your child’s life, looking beyond outward appearances.
Think of the heartbreak of parents who have discovered, too late, that their children have been abused by trusted clergymen, teachers, or even close family members. It would be good for you as a parent to ask yourself, ‘Does my church tolerate or cover up child abuse? Is my religion holding firmly to high moral principles?’ Answers to such questions could help you to make wise choices in protecting your children.
But above all, try to help them come to know and love the Creator’s principles, which will help protect them from harm. When children see their parents’ respect for high moral principles, they will more readily follow this good example.
The Only Real Solution
Of course, neither laws nor heavier sentences will in themselves protect our children. The Creator himself through his inspired Word, the Bible, can effectively bring about chaste conduct, by changing the thinking of beastlike people into that of loving and moral members of any community.
That this is possible has already been shown. There are many who have abandoned former lecherous life-styles. They are now providing living proof of the power of God’s Word. But while this is a step in the right direction, the majority of depraved wrongdoers will not change. This is the reason why Jehovah God has promised that all who exploit our children will soon be removed from the earth—along with their philosophies, their lusts, and their greed.—1 John 2:15-17.
Then, in God’s new world, when poverty will be no more, all children will enjoy an unhurried and unharassed childhood, which is their God-given right. This will mean not only the end of child abuse but also the end of all the painful memories that mar people’s lives today: “The former things will not be called to mind, neither will they come up into the heart.”—Isaiah 65:17.
Thus, in God’s new world, in a grand way the words of Jesus Christ will take on real meaning: “Let the young children alone, and stop hindering them from coming to me, for the kingdom of the heavens [ruling over the earth, mankind’s Paradise home] belongs to suchlike ones.”—Matthew 19:14.
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