Shortly before Christmas, the nation was shocked by yet another tragedy involving the senseless death of 20 grade school children and six adults in Newtown, Connecticut. The death of children is especially difficult to understand and accept. Most of us would do anything to keep children safe. President Obama said in his remarks at an interfaith service in Newtown, that our first task is, “caring for our children. It’s our first job. If we don’t get that right, we don’t get anything right. That’s how, as a society, we will be judged.” And how true his word are. Caring for children is one of the most important things we should do as a society. And when one of these tragic events occur it seems that all the media and politicians put all their focus on it and, as the days pass, it slowly falls from the new cast, newspaper, and political dialogue.
But overlooked in these tragic events are the ongoing situations that lead to the shameful deaths of children. For example, in 2009, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reported that 1,314 children under the age of 14 died in motor vehicle accidents. This is an average of almost 4 children dying each day of the year because of accidents in motor vehicles, many of them did not have child safety seats, booster seats, or seat belts. Where is the outrage? Where is the caring for children?
According to the National Child Abuse Hotline there are more than 5 children dying each day in this country as the result of child abuse. These tragic deaths are even worse than what happened at Newtown because the death is not quick but is the result of weeks, or months, or years of abuse. Where is the outrage? Where is the caring for children?
The New England Journal of Medicine report that there are around 3,562 abortions every month. Regardless of an individual’s position on a woman’s right to choice, this is a very large number of potential children who will never attend a prom, or even attend school at all. Where is the outrage? Where is the caring for children?
The nation is now debating gun ownership and debating how to limit access to guns for people prone to violence. In 2011, there were 565 children under the age of 18 that were murdered by guns. That’s 565 too many, but that number pales when you consider that 1,314 died in car accidents, or the 1,825 who died through child abuse, or the 42,744 who never see the light of day.
If we really care for children, we need to care for them every day and not just when 20 die tragically. The death of one child through abuse or lack of concern should cause outrage by society who wants to be judged on how we care for children.