We have labeled our mission at Lakeside as dealing with the issues of at-risk youth in America. These are children and teenagers who are struggling to succeed in their schools, communities and families. As important as that is, and we are so thankful that we can help so many children and youth each year, internationally, children as a whole are in a huge crisis.
Putting our arms around the world’s children
When we watch the news, we see countries at war with neighboring countries, destruction of property, bombings of entire villages, civil wars, government takeovers, religious persecution and interpersonal hostility. These factors create and escalate the dilemmas of malnutrition, disease, starvation, and poverty which includes massive child abuse and neglect. It is frightening and overwhelming to realize just how many children are truly at-risk, who are struggling to survive in so many parts of the world.
I ran across this quote from a source at UNICEF referring to war’s impact on children:
Children have, of course, always been caught up in warfare. They usually have little choice but to experience, at minimum, the same horrors as their parents—as casualties or even combatants. And children have always been particularly exposed. When food supplies have run short, it is children who have been hardest hit, since their growing bodies need steady supplies of essential nutrients. When water supplies have been contaminated, it is children who have had the least resistance to the dangers of disease. And the trauma of exposure to violence and brutal death has emotionally affected generations of young people for the rest of their lives.
Recent developments in warfare have significantly heightened the dangers for children. During the last decade, it is estimated (and these figures, while specific, are necessarily orders of magnitude) that child victims have included:
- 2 million killed;
- 4-5 million disabled;
- 12 million left homeless;
- more than 1 million orphaned or separated from their parents;
- some 10 million psychologically traumatized.
Raise awareness of the global community of children
I realize that wars have been a part of our global history and they just seem to continue. However, if we believe these statistics are real, it is truly tragic to think about the impact of these wars to our communities of children.
I deeply appreciate the relief efforts that are going toward their behalf and that of their families. There needs to be more.
These children are in the midst of circumstances they did not cause nor can they control. Let us all think and pray for our global community of children who are truly at risk.
We need to raise awareness of these vulnerable ones to our leaders. The devastation of war leaves legacies of physical, emotional and relational devastation for generations to come. Until we esteem our children and care for them globally, this tragic pattern will continue. It is complex and difficult to resolve, but we must stand for the health and protection of those entrusted to our care!
Gerry Vassar, President/CEO, Lakeside Educational Network