Get Involved. Not tomorrow, not next week, but now

Published 6:16 pm Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Every morning my husband and I follow the same routine. We pour our coffee and read the newspaper. However, after reading the front page on Feb. 15, I put the paper down to hide in my closet.

There were two headlines that day: “This is catastrophic: 17 killed; suspect is a former student” and  “Exploited: Who buys a child for sex? Otherwise ordinary men.”

Not long ago, the headline was: “13 children abused by parents.”

How I wish those three headlines were all “fake news,” but sadly, they were not. The closet was safe, but once I realized it was abetting the problem, I walked out.

What are we doing to children? We indeed can’t fight the problem by remaining in a closet. If we pause long enough to seriously ponder these questions: “What if my child was lying in a morgue today because of a school shooting?” “What if my child or grandchild had been abducted and forced into the sex trade?” “What if my nieces or nephews were chained to a bed for years?”  Have chills crept up your spine yet?

Let’s face reality; some parents just shouldn’t be parents. They don’t monitor their children or may care not to. There is nothing one can do to make a parent better unless they desire to be.

When the parent is not involved, we need to be. Undoubtedly, the negligent parent has relatives, neighbors or friends who are not all uncaring folks. Isn’t there one adult in the child’s life who sees red lights flashing? Or are all the adults not wanting to “get involved?”

When the family of the 13 children moved to California, they sold their Texas home. Did the folks who sold, cleaned or painted the house not see the light flashing red when they observed feces on the walls, urine-soaked carpet and filth?  When neighbors saw the children only at night, did they not see red lights?

700,000 children are abused each year in America. The most significant percentage of horror happens to babies under one year of age.

Mental illness is to blame for many of the mass shootings. And, much of the gun violence is because of guns. (Don’t panic, I am not writing to undo the second amendment.)

Schizophrenia is a mental disease that starts to show symptoms in young men between the ages of 16 to 25. For girls, it typically strikes later. Other mental illnesses seem to hit young men and women in this age group as well. When those that we know start exhibiting symptoms of any brain dysfunction, please get involved.

I never want to step on the rights of gun owners. However, I will step up for the rational use of a weapon. Locking up guns is a start, but what about the parent who doesn’t monitor or care?

Second, if an 18-year-old can’t buy a beer then why in the world can he buy an AK-47 or AR-15?  Whoever created laws that allow that, indeed must never have raised a teenager. Yes, an 18-year-old can join the service. However, in the service he is trained, he’s taught discipline, and he is under watchful eyes.

Third, why not stricter background checks?  The young man who killed all those in Florida last week flashed so many red lights he lit up the sky. Police had been called to his home 39 times. He was on FBI radar. His mother had died. He exhibited mental problems for years. Yet, he bought an AR-15 legally. There is no unified database for this type of information? Does that make sense?

Approximately, 2,000 children die, plus 11,000 injured by guns each year in this country. These numbers do not include accidental shootings or suicides. Our rights are one thing, but who is protecting the rights of the child just to live?

Years ago, I went to my ENT for an earache.  He was a good-looking man with a humble disposition and excellent skills. He is now in prison for the sexual exploitation of children. Sexual predators show no visible signs of their evilness. They sit among us in church and are possibly the friendly neighbor down the street. Look around, pay attention.

One million children a year suffer at the hands of depraved men and women. Many are found and never charged for their crimes. The traffickers go to prison, the child may escape, but most of these ordinary men still roam free.

The good folks in our society must come out of the safety of our closets and into the innocent world of a child. We cannot allow 2 million more children this year to be killed, hurt or abused because we chose to hide.  Get involved. Not tomorrow, not next week, but now.