December 30, 2012

REPORTING ASIDE: Make 2013 the year we stop hurting children

By Amy Calder acalder@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

I have two hopes for the new year: That we recognize that we adults are responsible for what happens to children, and that we stop the violence we force on them.

click image to enlarge

Internally displaced Afghan children from Helmand province wait for winter relief assistance from the United Nation's refugee agency at a refugee camp in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday. Around 600 internally displaced families received winter relief assistance distributed by the United Nation's refugee agency.

AP photo

Ayla Reynolds disappeared from Waterville a year ago at the hands of adults, and there's no sign of her anywhere. She is likely dead because of adult action, and Ayla, just 20 months old at the time, had no defense against it, no say in her demise.

Children in the Middle East are being killed and maimed regularly in wars between adults, prompted by adult disagreements.

The children have no vote, no voice, no shield to protect themselves, as bombs fall on their houses and in the streets, tearing their small bodies apart as they try to escape.

We watch these scenes of carnage on the television news from thousands of miles away, safe in our warm homes, with no clue what it's like to wake in the morning, wondering if this day will be our last.

And then, closer to home in southern New England, children are murdered in their school by an adult with a semiautomatic rifle, leaving the survivors traumatized for life.

Those of us who were raised in a safe, innocent and protective environment are responsible for shielding children from all this.

The question is not whether we protect them, but how. Why should we be given a long life when we allow theirs to be cut short?

How dare we let this happen?

Why should we be given the power to bring children into the world, give them the hope of a long and happy life, and then not take measures to ensure it?

We had better seek a solution, and now. As I watch the children in other countries lying bloodied in the streets, their little bodies torn apart by gunfire and bombs from adults fighting over land, religion and money, I am angry.

As I see children hauled away on stretchers to inadequate hospitals that can't begin to handle the onslaught, where doctors scramble to help but know they are fighting a losing battle, I am infuriated.

It's one thing to kill and maim each other, but quite another to take little ones with us when we do.

We are intelligent adults. We must put our heads together and find a solution to this. We may disagree on how, but we had better reach consensus. We do it all the time for less important matters.

Where children are concerned, there's absolutely no excuse.

Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter 24 years. Her column appears here Mondays. She may be reached at acalder@centralmaine.com.

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