It was a shared experience of intense challenges, uncertainty and pain. We let politics, media, and the social media silos tear us apart. I am not perfect. I have fallen victim to the same reactions towards people who believe differently than I do. I have hit the unfriend button. I have name called. I have judged. I have written people off.
What this blog has taught me is that humanity still exists. There is still hope that we can return to a place of civil discourse, love thy neighbor, and love over hate. Maybe the bridge back to each other is in helping those who need us most. Maybe we can make our common ground supporting children. In so many ways, we are failing them.
Children are always watching. They are listening. They are watching this country become so divided. They are seeing us set the tone for the years they have ahead of them. Right now, most of use are modeling "what not to do". They deserve better.
Child hunger in our country is astounding. 1 in 6 kids live in food-insecure homes. That is 12.5 MILLION children, not knowing when and where they will get their next meal. Quite often they must go for cheap and discount found options which leads to alarmingly high rate of child obesity. Nearly half of food stamps are rewarded to children. Yet society shames their families. I am not writing this for political debate. You can look at the stats and research. I'll attach a report to this post.
In 2018, nearly half a million (463 million) children entered foster care, a number that is trending up by 1-2% each year. This is a societal break down on so many levels. Those numbers are tied to abuse, neglect, and poverty. The median age of children entering foster care is just 6 years old. My Dillon entered at age 2. My Jerry entered 15 months.
Research shows that every 9 minutes child protective services substantiates, or finds evidence for, a claim of childhood sexual abuse. In 2016 alone, nearly 54,000 children were victims of sexual abuse. Of all those victims, 2 out 3 were between the ages of 12-17. My abuse started at age 13. I know what they are experiencing and we know those numbers from 2016 are continuing to rise.
The most encouraging part of this blog thus far is the conversations it had started in many families. I have appreciated every message where people share how they have sat down their pre-teens and teens and had a conversation about what to look for in their interactions with adults in their lives. The shock of what happened to me, in my perceived safe hometown, has lead to many meaningful conversations. This amazing realization helps push me forward.
So many children face astounding obstacles in their young lives. Caring for our children should not be a political issue. It should be the foundation of our society. The seeds of our democracy, moral compasses, and future development is planted in our children. We have to do better. We have to put aside our differences and refocus on what matters. Yes, it starts with our own children, but let's find ways to help children in need. Spend some time looking up child welfare organizations in your towns and see how you can help. Are there any organizations in your town that support victims of sexual abuse? The holidays times where many families are in the most need of support. What is being done locally to support them?
The poet Rumi wrote “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I'll meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass the world is too full to talk about.”
Let my story and the story of so many other children and teens drive you to meet me in that field. We can find common ground in helping the lives that need us most.
Link to site used for this post
State of Children in US Report
Foster Care Report