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There is one issue that especially breaks my heart when I think about it: children who suffer.
I was reading Elder Dallin H. Oaks' October 2012 conference talk titled "Protect the Children" and here are some sad facts that brought tears in my eyes and broke my heart.
Many children are abducted from their homes and forced to serve as soldiers.
Over two million children are victimized each year through prostitution and pornography.
More than 40 million abortions per year. (Tragic irony as countless infertile couples long for and seek babies to adopt.)
Fetal impairments that result from the mother's inadequate nutrition or drug use. (The law doesn't acknowledge a fetus as a person so that abortions can be performed. This prevents the government to do anything about alcohol and drug abuse induced impairments that are costing millions to society and ruin so many children's lives permanently.)
Almost eight million children die before their fifth birthday, mostly from diseases both treatable and preventable.
One in four children have stunted growth, mentally and physically, because of inadequate nutrition.
41 percent of all births in the United States were to women who were not married.
Many children suffer from psychological abuse. "Parents or other caregivers or teachers or peers who demean, bully, or humiliate children or youth can inflict harm more permanent than physical injury. Making a child or youth feel worthless, unloved, or unwanted can inflict serious and long-lasting injury on his or her emotional well-being and development. Young people struggling with any exceptional condition, including same-gender attraction, are particularly vulnerable and need loving understanding—not bullying or ostracism."
Here are some sad examples of children suffering:
"Living and traveling internationally, we Church leaders see much of this. The general presidency of the Primary report children living in conditions “beyond our imaginations.” A mother in the Philippines said: “Sometimes we do not have enough money for food, but that is all right because it gives me the opportunity to teach my children about faith. We gather and pray for relief, and the children see the Lord bless us.” In South Africa, a Primary worker met a little girl, lonely and sad. In faint responses to loving questions, she said she had no mother, no father, and no grandmother—only a grandfather to care for her. Such tragedies are common on a continent where many caregivers have died of AIDS.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland recently shared the experience of an LDS police officer. In an investigation he found five young children huddled together and trying to sleep without bedding on a filthy floor in a dwelling where their mother and others were drinking and partying. The apartment had no food to relieve their hunger. After tucking the children into a makeshift bed, the officer knelt and prayed for their protection. As he walked toward the door, one of them, about six, pursued him, grabbed him by the hand, and pleaded, “Will you please adopt me?”
Some more quotes from Elder Oaks' talk:
"Of utmost importance to the well-being of children is whether their parents were married, the nature and duration of the marriage, and, more broadly, the culture and expectations of marriage and child care where they live. Two scholars of the family explain: “Throughout history, marriage has first and foremost been an institution for procreation and raising children. It has provided the cultural tie that seeks to connect the father to his children by binding him to the mother of his children. Yet in recent times, children have increasingly been pushed from center stage.”
"There are surely cases when a divorce is necessary for the good of the children, but those circumstances are exceptional. In most marital contests the contending parents should give much greater weight to the interests of the children."
"We also need politicians, policy makers, and officials to increase their attention to what is best for children in contrast to the selfish interests of voters and vocal advocates of adult interests."
"For children, the relative stability of marriage matters."
"I have spoken for children—children everywhere. Some may reject some of these examples, but none should resist the plea that we unite to increase our concern for the welfare and future of our children—the rising generation.
Click here for the full talk by Elder Dallin H. Oaks who worked as a justice of a Supreme Court prior to becoming an Apostle for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and has seen first hand all kinds of child abuse and neglect.