Tuesday, December 04, 2012

What are we doing to our children?

UNICEF has ranked Britain bottom out of 21 developed countries for child welfare and third from bottom for educational standards. Other reports have labelled British children the "unhappiest in the world."

*  Forty-eight per cent of children born today will experience the breakdown of their parents' relationship.

*  Twenty-four per cent of children live with only one parent. Nine out of 10 of those children are in households headed by lone mothers.

*  A boy of 12 who raped a nine-year-old girl told police he wanted to feel grown-up. He had had unrestricted access to hardcore online pornography. Children as young as six are surfing the internet without parental supervision. Fourteen per cent of children between six and 10 have encountered adult material on the internet.

*  Some 31 per cent of sexual crimes in England and Wales in 2009 - 2010 were against children under 16. More than a third of all rapes were against children.

*  Up to 40 per cent of children have been involved in "sexting" (creating, sharing and forwarding sexually suggestive nude or nearly nude images by mobile phone or internet).

*  Despite billions of pounds spent on sex education, teen pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases are increasing. One in 10 young people catch a second sexually transmitted disease within a year of a first diagnosis.

*  Binge drinking has become habitual for many young people in Britain. A 14-year-old girl diagnosed with liver disease after drinking 16 bottles of wine, cider and spirits in three days was told by doctors if she drinks again she will die. Alcohol contributes to the death of five per cent of young people.

*  Almost a quarter of children from 11 to 15 in the UK have tried drugs.

*  An estimated 100,000 children in the UK run away from home each year.

*  In the UK there are an estimated 5,000 child prostitutes.

What on earth are we doing to our children?

That question is also the title of a book, published by the Manchester-based Maranatha Community, being promoted at a meeting in the Houses of Parliament today. (You can see details of the book at www.maranathacommunity.org.uk.)

What can be done about the situation? The book suggests three things.

First, listen to what children are saying. We need to face facts about what's happening to children.

Second, repent for what we have done and what we have failed to do.

Third, commit ourselves to action. Become more involved in work for children. Assist organisations working for the good of children and young people.

The book quotes Edmund Burke: "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."

Which infers that if we do nothing, we bear responsibility too.