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Saving little Juans and Juanas

This November we are celebrating Children's Month. This is in commemoration of our country's adoption of the United Nation's Convention on the Rights of the Child. Government agencies are being tasked to promote the celebration aimed at increasing the awareness of the community in line with the protection of our children. With this year's theme: "Bata: Iligtas sa Droga" is a fitting alignment to the government's fight against drugs. And children, being a vulnerable sector of our society, must be protected.  

Being parents, our responsibility is not an easy one. But it becomes a commitment, accepting that we are parents, and as adults in the community, we are given a lifetime responsibility of protecting every child in the community.

Are we making sure that our children are in our homes and not in the streets or in unsafe places late at night so they will be away from drugs and other activities that may expose them to gang violence, pre-marital sex that may lead to teenage pregnancy or an HIV infection? This is such a tough job that requires the right values education and letting them realize the rationale behind such arrangement.

Fr. Shay Cullen of the Preda Foundation in his article "Saving the Children from Drugs, Poverty, and Prostitution" said that "Young boys on the streets of the big cities today come from the slums. Youth unemployment is astronomical, they are illiterate, unskilled and rejected by society. They roam the streets looking for food and clothes to cover their shame. They join gangs to survive and easily fall into temptation and steal to eat. They sniff industrial glue from plastic bags to block the pain of hunger and loneliness."

Cullen further narrated that children "are sometimes arrested and jailed without being convicted and mixed with criminals where they can be raped or made into sex slaves of the guards or pedophile prisoners. When they get out, they steal to buy drugs to overcome that trauma and are jailed again. It's a vicious circle."

In the end he said that "we all need to have compassion and to realize they are victims of sexual abuse in their own family or community from which they ran away. Hungry and impoverished, they were easily prostituted. They are still blamed by some people as degenerate rejects of family and society and only useful as sex objects to be used and exploited for sex tourists, local and foreign. This must end."

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Whether at homes or in the community, children are exposed to violent scenes. Let us keep our children away from the exposure to violent acts which result in high levels of anxiety, depression, and anger which in the long run would cause them to grow numb and indifferent to acts of violence and become perpetrators of violence themselves.

There are so many ways to save our children by communicating to them the risks and consequences of their actions; being good listeners to their concerns and challenges, being supportive of their undertakings –but what encompasses all is our expression of our love for them. That is making sure to tell them often how proud we are and how much we love them.

Although Frederick Douglas once said that "it is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men," the time has come for us save and ensure the quality of condition of our children. This would pave the way for a quality community in the future. Let us once again be reminded that our children today will be the leaders tomorrow.

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