I catch my breath. I can’t believe what I am reading. Surely this can’t be right.
When I read “Counties fielded reports of possible child abuse or neglect an average of seven times an hour last year in Minnesota, one of the highest rates in the nation.”
When I read, “The auditor presented 10 sample scenarios to county child protection officials. Among them:
A father threatens his son and shoots the family dog in front of him.
A father chokes and punches a mother as the kids play video games.
A mother drinks too much while caring for her child.”
About half of Minnesota counties said they would decline to respond to those cases.”
When I read, “Most Minnesotans assume we have systems in place to help families and keep kids safe. We don’t.”
We don’t. We don’t keep kids safe.
Seven times an hour a report of child abuse or neglect gets called in. Seven times an hour. Let that sink in.
I think about seven things I might do in an hour…
Hand out snacks
Kiss scraped knees
Text a friend
Read a story to my daughter
Listen to piano practice
Cuddle my preschooler
So mundane. So daily. And meanwhile the calls roll in for kids who are hurting.
Its hard to imagine that here in beautiful Minnesota, the land of 10,000 lakes, we have 68,000 reports of child abuse or neglect. Each year. If we rounded up all the kids involved in those reports they would populate a city larger than St. Cloud, Woodbury, or Eagan. Its staggering.
And thats just Minnesota.
According to Barna research 73% of Americans believe it’s a positive thing for Christians to focus on adoption and foster care. And if that 73% of Americans picked up their Bibles they’d find they are correct. We ARE called to care for the widow and the orphan. All of us. And with roughly 350,000 churches in the USA you would think there would be plenty of families to step up and care for the estimated 399,546 kids in foster care. There should also be plenty of Christian families to sign up for programs like Together for Good, which focus on prevention of child abuse and neglect. But only 3% of practicing Christians have been a foster parent.
So I ask us… as the Church … as followers of Christ. Why have we let this be someone else’s problem?
Clearly the government isn’t the answer. Most child abuse calls are never investigated. And for those cases where children are removed from their homes, foster care outcomes are tragic. There are many, many good people working in child welfare. I doubt it’s a field people go into because they don’t care about kids. But they can’t do it all. Nor should they. We were given the charge to care for the widow and the orphan. Not Caesar.
Christians led the movement in the early church to care for and adopt neglected kids. The pagan Roman culture at large was fine with throwing kids away. Literally. They’d toss them on the street corner or onto the trash heap to either die of exposure or be picked up by slave traders. And it was perfectly legal to do so. But early Christians were adamantly opposed to infanticide. They also supported the poor and took in infants left to die.
We have the opportunity to repeat our own history and rise up again to take care of these kids. To take care of their parents. To love even if it’s hard. Even if it’s inconvenient. Even if it’s messy.
What are we holding onto so tightly that keeps us from loving freely?
I urge you to consider … If you were called by a desperate mom, if a hurting child arrived at your door, would you just walk away? And if we are walking away. If we all walk away, what are we walking towards?
Our comforts? Our scheduled activities? Our busy lives?
We can do better than this. We can reach out. We need to reach out. Because until we make this our problem, the cycle will continue. This is a problem the local church has the resources to address. But guess who makes up the local church? We do.
And we can do better than this.
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Stahl, B. (2014, April 21). Minnesota counties ‘screen out’ most child abuse reports. The Star Tribune. Retrieved from www.startribune.com