The world is a dangerous place for children, but in the relatively comfortable environs of suburban America, we are sometimes willfully ignorant of the extreme dangers facing children at home and abroad. From the horrors of being intentionally maimed physically, to sexual abuse resulting in lifelong mental scars and the potential for sexually transmitted diseases, as well as the nightmarish degradation of child prostitution and even slavery, all the way to the final agony of murder, our children are in grave danger!
Some people turn away from religion altogether or lash out in harshness toward God when they say, “If there is a God, He would never let such horrors happen to little children.” Or perhaps, “I refuse to worship a God who lets innocent children suffer and die so dreadfully!” So why does God allow such misery and abuse to befall children?
In an annual report titled “State of the World’s Children 2000,” the United Nations Children’s Fund (unicef) says (emphasis mine throughout), “There is no way to calculate the exact number of young boys and girls whose lives are endangered by their sale and trafficking [meaning slavery], by debt bondage, serfdom, forced or compulsory labor, forced or compulsory recruitment into armed conflict, prostitution, pornography or by the production and trafficking of drugs. But, according to estimates by the International Labor Organization (ilo), some 250 million children between the ages of 5 and 14 work in developing countries, and some 50 million to 60 million children between the ages of 5 and 11 work in hazardous circumstances.”
The unicef report says that more than 600 million children worldwide are living in poverty. Though at first seemingly unrelated, war, poverty, prostitution and slavery many times all go hand in hand.
The independent weekly publication Búsqueda in Montevideo, Uruguay, wrote on May 7, 1998, about how the traffic in human beings has changed from ancient history. “New forms of slavery exist in the modern world. Child prostitutes, child soldiers, women uprooted from their countries and forced into prostitution…are just some of the faces of slavery at the end of the 20th century.
“The trade in females for prostitution and the forced recruitment of workers amount to billions of dollars annually worldwide, though the exact figure is practically impossible to calculate. According to the United Nations Children’s Fund, more than 1 million women and children are sold annually worldwide. Operatives scour rural areas of the poorest countries where they establish friendships with the parents or with the children themselves, luring them with false promises and money. Sometimes the parents know the destiny of the children and still take the money and let them go.”
Over the last 20 years, in spite of the growth in the world’s economy, the number of people living in poverty grew to more than 1.2 billion, or one in every five persons. The desperation of poverty causes many desperate acts. Parents with a large number of mouths to feed sometimes sell their children into forced labor or prostitution in order to support the rest of the family. Many children are sold for the equivalent of us$35, about a year’s wages in some poverty-stricken areas. The unicef report says that every month 250,000 children and young people around the world become infected with the fatal hiv/aids virus, with many of those cases directly related to child prostitution and the grinding poverty which holds them captive.
Poverty wreaks havoc on a society in many ways. Child soldiers as young as 9 or 10 are sent off to war so they don’t have to be fed at home. Many children are kidnapped to become soldiers, because a child soldier is welcomed on the battlefield. “Children make awesome soldiers,” a Save the Children coordinator stated in an interview with Mozambique’s Sunday Independent on August 13, 1995. “Child soldiers are effective,” he said, “because they are easy to organize, and they don’t ask questions. In wartime, a commander wants total submission. You get that only from a child.”
The article continues with a comment from World Press Review: “Children have their own reasons for fighting in war. But in the Mozambican civil war, the reason for children becoming soldiers was simple: They were forced to fight. [And in many cases, child soldiers are given drugs to make them violent and erase their inhibitions.—wpr]”
One former child soldier described the use of boy soldiers in combat by saying, “They worked out quite nicely in the field. You know, they always did what they were told to do, they were fiercely loyal and brave in battle. They had the hardest job really, they were often the first to go forward when we attacked a village…. The ones who didn’t follow orders or failed in some way, they would be killed by one of the soldiers or, to prove his loyalty to [the army], by one of the boys in front of the whole group.”
It is estimated that about 200,000 children, 10 percent of whom might be girls, are involved in war as combatants around the world, the majority in Africa’s numerous wars. Children are being made into hardened killing machines with no regard for the life of others as they themselves are brutalized by adults.
The Devil’s Toys
The European-based magazine The Spectator has uncovered one of the most outrageously appalling dangers to children abroad. Describing “The Devil’s Toys” in a March 18 article, the author states, “In front of me as I write is a dud butterfly bomb. It is just over four inches wide and two deep, made of plastic and shaped like a wing-nut—or a butterfly—and its purpose was to blow the hands off Afghan children…. They were produced in green, blue, red and yellow because they would be more attractive for children to pick up and thus have their hands blown off. This was usually only up to the wrist, but sometimes further, especially if the child was delicate or very small…. It had what is called a trembler fuse that would cause it to explode half a second or so after it was picked up. Note the delay. There had to be time for the bomb to be fully grasped, otherwise there was no point in dropping it in the fields and watercourses close to villages. If it could explode at a touch, a child might lose only a few fingers. (Sometimes they lost feet.) No: it had to be seized in a tiny hand for the explosive to act in the way that was intended….”
What a diabolical way to prevent children from being used in war: Blow the hands off of every little child you can! By doing so, a potential link is taken out of the chain of supply of soldiers, present and future. How ghastly! One can only imagine the pitiful quality of life left for these little maimed children. Only a demon-influenced mind could devise such a terrible crime against humanity.
The unicef report for 1996 on the world’s children estimated that in the previous ten years (1985-1995), wars left 2 million children killed, 4 to 5 million maimed and disabled, and 12 million homeless. What abomination mankind has wrought upon itself through its own warped goals and thinking!
Many Americans are aware of the problem of child prostitution in some Asian countries. Perhaps not as widely known of is research that has revealed a growing number, currently between 100,000 to 300,000, of children under age 18 bought, sold and recruited into prostitution in North America.
On average, these children become prostitutes at age 14. The vast majority of adult prostitutes began before turning 18.
The Christian Science Monitor of August 30, 1996, wrote, “Like children in Thailand, India and elsewhere, most North American children enter prostitution not because they ‘choose’ to, but because adults—pimps and customers—are expert at identifying and exploiting those that are vulnerable, child advocates say. Many children are running from sexual abuse at home, but end up finding more of it than they ever imagined on the streets….
“Young people are in hot demand in North America’s sex industry—among pornographers, escort services, massage parlors and strip clubs….
“Canadians and Americans should quit wagging fingers at Asia and instead take a hard look at the fast-growing business of renting children for sex in their own North American backyard…places with squeaky-clean reputations like Wichita, Kans., Oklahoma City or Minneapolis….”
Experts report that more than 2 million cases of child abuse and neglect are reported each year in the United States, with an estimated 150,000 to 200,000 new cases of sexual abuse occurring each year. Many of those situations in America will drive a child into prostitution, especially those involving sexual abuse by other family members. More than 80 percent of children who enter the sex trade say they were sexually or physically abused at home.
What a tragedy for a nation which is supposed to be one of the most religious of the industrialized democracies, with 95 percent of its population professing a belief in God. What hypocrisy! Matthew 7:5 quotes Jesus Christ as saying, “Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.”
Man’s inhumanity to man goes marching on, one generation after another. And children all over the world are being exploited in as many ways as the twisted mind and imagination of man can conceive.
The Mind as the Target
The mind of a child can be easily channeled into good or evil. An ancient Chinese proverb says, “A young branch takes on all the bends that one gives it.”
The Hitler Youth movement which began in 1923 and produced boy soldiers for Adolf Hitler’s war machine is a prime example of how children can be focused and channeled by a dominant adult mind. In 1933, Adolf Hitler said, “My program for educating youth is hard. Weakness must be hammered away. In my castles of the Teutonic Order a youth will grow up before which the world will tremble. I want a brutal, domineering, fearless, cruel youth. Youth must be all that. It must bear pain. There must be nothing weak and gentle about it. The free, splendid beast of prey must once again flash from its eyes…. That is how I will eradicate thousands of years of human domestication…. That is how I will create the New Order.”
Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Whether for bad, as Adolf Hitler showed, or for good, a child’s mind can be molded and shaped like soft clay.
In our own families, we should ask: How is my child’s mind being shaped? How are my own child rearing practices affecting my children?
We should also look around and ask other questions. For example, what kind of input is your child receiving from outside your immediate family circle? Do you know your child’s friends? Do you know their parents? Is your child spending a lot of time on the Internet? If your child is in school, have you met his or her teachers? Or what about your child’s scoutmaster or soccer coach? What information are other people funneling into the mind of your child?
These important questions unfortunately go unanswered in the lives of far too many children. Proverbs 29:15 warns us that “a child left to himself brings his mother to shame.” Children must be guided and channeled into good, or this “present evil world” (Gal. 1:4) and Satan-influenced monsters like Adolf Hitler will attempt to fill their minds with every hurtful evil possible.
Revelation 12:12 says that Satan the devil is filled with great wrath, and a large measure of that wrath is being directed toward the minds of children. This is especially evidenced by the numerous and savage school shootings of students by students in the recent past. Verse 9 says Satan has deceived the whole world and is now cast down to the Earth with very little time left to complete his diabolical assault on mankind to try and thwart the plan of God for mankind’s salvation.
The minds of all humans, especially children, are Satan’s targets as he broadcasts through the air (Eph. 2:2) his violent, sadistic, rebellious nature and every sexual perversion and evil. Satan knows that if he can distort and harden the minds of children, then perhaps they will never accept God’s merciful repentance, and therefore they will not be in God’s Kingdom.
Some people ask, “Why doesn’t God prevent all of this evil affecting our children? Why does God allow little children to be influenced by Satan and abused by all the evil in our society?” We should ask, “Why can’t human beings prevent these evils?”
Humanity’s Wrong Choices
God has given mankind freedom of choice since the beginning of the human experience in the Garden of Eden. Mankind has had the freedom to act rightly or wrongly for almost 6,000 years, and we are paying the price for our wrong choices.
Chapters 1, 2 and 3 of Genesis lay the story out clearly. God gave our first parents, Adam and Eve, a choice. They could follow His instruction, or they could strike out on their own. Those two choices were symbolized by two trees in the garden: the tree of life, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
The tree of life represented God’s way of doing things, the way of “give” as the late Herbert W. Armstrong put it. Taking of that tree would have shown a willingness to be submissively obedient to God’s authority and to accept His revealed knowledge, which would eventually lead them to eternal life in the God family.
God warned Adam and Eve against choosing the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, telling them that such a decision would lead to unhappiness and ultimately to their death. By taking of this tree representing the way of “get,” mankind set out on a course of rejecting God’s revelation and deciding for themselves what was good or evil. After eating of that tree, their minds began to reason apart from God and to acquire knowledge through experimentation and trial and error. Pain and suffering of enormous magnitude has resulted.
Quite simply put, our first parents chose wrong! They rejected God and His ways of love, peace and happiness. They chose to reject God’s authority over their lives. And so mankind launched itself into a grand experiment to found its own governments and religions, to establish its own laws and rules of conduct. Mankind developed science and education as its guiding authorities, based on the unproven and false theory of evolution, which is presented as proven fact. All technology and industry we see today has been developed by man while in rebellion against God.
And that is the answer to why we see all this suffering and misery today. That is why mankind’s history has always been filled with heartache, tears and blood. Mankind as a whole has chosen to reject God and His way of life. God has always allowed mankind to have freedom of choice. And mankind has simply made the wrong choices!
On the whole, mankind has rejected God’s revealed truth and refused to live God’s way of life as set out in the Bible (Gen. 3:6; i Sam. 8:7). God has allowed mankind to go its own way and has, for the most part, kept His hands off this world; He does not get involved in the lives of those who reject Him and His teachings. That is how it has been for the nearly 6,000 years of mankind’s history.
Mankind is writing in its own blood the lesson of what happens when we are cut off from the righteous God. Because men have lost His guidance, protection and revelation, man’s evil nature—which we so willingly acquired from Satan the devil (the snake in the Garden of Eden, and “god” of this world; see ii Cor. 4:4)—has led us to the brink of self-annihilation and to all misery and abomination!
That’s why mankind and millions of little children suffer! Man has made wrong choices down through history and must now learn to live the way of life which prevents the mistakes and abuses of the past and present.