A Child's Cry

 

A Prayer Of Responsibility For Children

  We pray for children

Who put chocolate fingers everywhere,
Who like to be tickled,
Who stomp in puddles and ruin their new pants,
Who sneak Popsicles before supper,
Who erase holes in math workbooks,
Who can never find their shoes.

  And We pray for those

Who stare at photographers from behind barbed wire,
Who can't bound down the street in a new pair of sneakers,
Who never "counted potatoes,"
Who are born in places we wouldn't be caught dead,
Who never go to the circus,
Who live in a X-rated world.

  We pray for children

Who bring us sticky kisses and fistfuls of dandelions,
Who sleep with the dog and bury goldfish,
Who hug us in a hurry and forget their lunch money,
Who cover themselves with Band-aids and sing off key,
Who squeeze toothpaste all over the sink,
Who slurp their soup.

  And We pray for those

Who never get dessert,
Who have no safe blanket to drag behind them,
Who watch their parents watch them die,
Who can't find any bread to steal,
Who don't have any rooms to clean up,
Whose pictures aren't on anybody's dresser,
Whose monsters are real.

  We pray for children

Who spend all their allowance before Tuesday,
Who throw tantrums in the grocery store and pick at their food,
Who like ghost stories,
Who shove dirty clothes under the bed and never rinse out the tub,
Who get visits from the tooth fairy,
Who don't like to be kissed in front of the carpool,
Who squirm in church or temple and scream in the phone,
Whose tears we sometimes laugh at and whose smiles can make us cry.

  And We pray for those

Whose nightmares come in the daytime,
Who will eat anything,
Who have never seen a dentist,
Who aren't spoiled by anybody,
Who go to bed hungry and cry themselves to sleep,
Who live and move, but have no being.

  We pray for children

Who want to be carried and for those who must,
For those we never give up on
And for those who don't get a second chance.
For those we smoother...
And for those 
who will grab the hand of anybody kind enough to offer it.

~Ina J. Hughs~
From Children's Defense Fund

 

        

The Riots That Took Place In Cincinnati, Ohio 
April 2001

Today I saw a child amongst a crowd of angry people, for as long as I live, I shall never forget this little boy's eyes as he watched a crowd that was filled with fear, hurt and anger, striking out against one another. You could feel this child fears as all this took place around him, not sure what was to become of him. He begin to reach for his Mothers hand, but she was no where to be found, for she had been pushed into this madness of a crowd, loosing sight of her son. The tears begin to stream down his face, the panic in his eyes,  wondering would these people turn their anger towards him. There he stood, so small among those around him, not sure where to turn. You could see him crying out for his Mother, but his tears and cries was not heard.

The crowd so enraged in their own anger, no one ever saw this small boy sitting there, tears streaming down his face and eyes, filled with fear, feeling scared and alone. This very crowd, whose anger was being voiced about the concerns of no more killings, no more violence toward our young, yet here amongst them was a child. Could no one hear his cries? Why couldn't they see his fears? Why couldn't they see his tears? This child, that day amongst the crowd, became a victim, a victim to the very crowd who were violently protesting the violence of our youth. On this day, this small child became a witness to the violence and anger, and no one to comfort or console him.  Where were the hands and hearts that should of been reaching out to him? The cries, and screams of the crowd covered the very cry of this young child, who cried out in anguish and fear, yet this small child's voice went unheard. Was he not the reason, "the cause" that they were all fighting for? Did they not see, the very violence they were fighting against, was nonetheless  the very same violence, that on this day they were inflicting upon this small boy?

The hatred, the indifferences, the hurt, the anger this crowd felt as they were gathered here on the streets, did they not know on  that day they instilled this same hurt and fear into this small boy? As this small child grows up, will his memory of that day, seeing those filled with anger, hurt, and those who can't see beyond their indifferences,  whether of it be of one's race, one's belief's, that hatred, will he feel for his voice to be heard it can only be through violence?

I don't know what ever became of this child, for it was only a moment that I was allowed to catch a glimpse of him, and then he was gone. The days that followed, watching the news, the public officials and citizens all casting the blame for why this had happened, as these events brought  a city to it's knees. I listened as many spoke over the course of the next few weeks, all had their reasons in feeling what happened that week  in Cincinnati, that the violence, rioting, misuse of ones power, the vandalism, the looting that had taken place, all sides felt they were all some how justified. I sat and wept, for no one in that crowd that day had seen this small child or heard his cries, who was justified here? 

The issues that took place that  week in Cincinnati, isn't just about one city, this has become a worldwide issue. Our children are becoming victims of violence and abuse of many forms, and no one is hearing their voices! The violence, the abuse, the death among our children, the numbers are high. Children have become victims in their own schools, the streets they play on, their own neighborhoods, some victims of their own countries politics,  and some even in their own home. We wonder why our children are striking out, rebelling, and acting out roles of violence. Could it be that perhaps, it is "us"  that has shown our children that to be heard, to feel they belong, to feel their self-worth, that they can only be heard thru drastic means and measures? 

When you see the statistics they are overwhelming. In 1999 the confirmed cases of child abuse and neglect in the US was estimated at 1,071,000. In addition, 1,401 children died as a result of child abuse and neglect. Approximately 1 out of 10 High School student has experienced physical violence in dating relationships. The number of children that die every day from hunger and related causes are the equivalent of having 100 commercial jetliners filled with children crash every single day killing everyone aboard. In Africa, there are 13.5 million AIDS orphans. Teenage homicides are up 300% in the last thirty years. The estimated number of child victims of armed conflict during the past decade, 2 million have been killed, 4-5 million disabled, and more then 1 million have been orphaned or separated from their families. In some 25 countries, in recent years, thousands of children under age 16 have fought in wars. In 1988 alone, there were as many as 200,000 child combatants. Suicide is the sixth leading cause of death for 5 to 14 years old and the third leading cause of death for 15 to 24 years olds. And the numbers are growing, as our children turn to suicide as a desperate solution to seemingly insolvable problems and feelings. 

When will we realize, we all have a responsibility here, for children all around the world? When does the blame stop, and the answers begin? How many more children must be victimized by our actions or die, before we hear? When do we hear the cries of our children?

~ Deb Montgomery Hays ~

Statistics from Prevent Child Abuse America, Gamache and Levy, Dating Violence: Young Women in Danger, 1991, Public Health Policy Advisory Board, UNICEF, and Children's Hunger Relief Fund.

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