Tag Archives: child hunger

The Rights of a Child

Children being treated by Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets after chemical attack.  Photo courtesy of Associated Press.

WARNING:  Graphic Images

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child is an international agreement which lays out the social, economic, cultural, civil, and political rights of children everywhere.  Since its adoption in 1989, the Convention has been signed by 194 countries.  But its interpretation and adherence vary widely across the globe.

Under the Convention, every child – boy or girl – has the right to life and survival; to protection against violence, abuse, and neglect; and to an education.

Right to Life

For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb
” (Ps. 139: 13).

The American Convention on Human Rights declares human life as beginning at conception.  Abortion is, however, legal for some 60% of the world’s population.

The United States has performed over 45 million abortions since 1970 [1].

China performs approximately 23 million abortions annually [2].  Although pre-natal sex determination is now illegal there, it is thought that sex-selective abortions (heavily weighted against females) are a key factor in China’s widely disproportionate number of men.

Right to Survival

Then He took the child by the hand, and said to her, ‘Talitha, cumi,’ which is translated, ‘Little girl, I say to you, arise.’  Immediately the girl arose and walked, for she was twelve years of age” (Mark 5: 41-42).

Over one third of child deaths worldwide are related to malnutrition [3].  Another 2  million children or more die annually of readily preventable diseases like diarrhea and pneumonia.

Protection against Violence

Thus says the LORD:  ‘Execute judgment and righteousness, and deliver the plundered out of the hand of the oppressor.  Do no wrong and do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless, or the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place’ “ (Jer. 22: 3).

During the 10 year period from 1986 – 1996, it is estimated that 2 million children were killed; 4-5 million disabled; and 12 million left homeless by war and conflict [4].  As recently as April of this year, Pres. Bashar al-Assad of Syria again killed dozens of his own men, women, and children in a chemical attack [5].

As many as 300,000 youngsters worldwide have been compelled by government or rebel forces to become child soldiers [6].

In the United States, 2710 children were killed by guns between 2014 – 2017 [7].  This ranged from gang violence to school shootings [8A].  Nearly 6000 children are treated for non-fatal gunshot wounds in this country, annually [8B].

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Candy from a Baby

National School Lunch Program, Author USDA (PD - Federal agency)

National School Lunch Program, Author USDA (PD – Federal agency)

‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me’ ” (Matt. 25: 45).

The fraud making headlines these days can run into the billions.  Ten million dollars may not seem an extraordinary amount, by those standards.  Still, it is substantial enough…especially when you realize that the stolen money was meant to feed hungry children.

A dozen people have been arrested in Arkansas for a scheme that drained funds from a federal program to fight hunger.  The program provides dinners, during the school year, and meals at community centers, during the summer months, to underprivileged children who would not otherwise have enough to eat.

The evidence suggests that employees of the Arkansas Dept. of Health Services responsible for administering the program approved wildly inflated claims, some by non-existent entities, in exchange for bribes.

The defendants have been charged with bribery, wire fraud, and money laundering.  Nine have pleaded guilty.  Statutory penalties will apply.  How much restitution may actually be possible has not yet been determined.

Arkansas has one of the highest rates of child hunger in the United States.  More than 275,000 children in the state qualify for free or reduced lunch.  The ten million dollars could have purchased 2.7-3.2 million meals.

An awful lot of milk and cookies never reached the table.  But stealing that food from the children who needed it was as easy as taking candy from a baby.

[1]  The Washington Post, “ ‘Mortified’:  Inside a $10M scheme to steal federal funds intended to feed hungry children” by Amy Want, 9/8/16,  https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/wp/2016/09/08/inside-a-10m-scheme-to-steal-federal-funds-intended-to-feed-hungry-children/.

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: http://www.alawyersprayers.com

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The Face of Poverty

Picture yourself a single or divorced mother. You are more likely to be white than black. You and your children live in rural poverty, on an army base, or in what is now politely known as the “inner city”.

You work outside the home, in a full or part-time job (sometimes two). Since you have no more than a high school diploma, you are limited to minimum wage, blue and pink collar jobs. Never mind that you grew up in poverty, yourself.

Childcare is an ongoing challenge, sometimes costing you jobs. When a child is sick, you miss work. Child support is little more than a fantasy.

Poverty and all it entails is a recognized cause of chronic health problems. You may already be suffering from depression or heart disease. Your children still have their dreams. They, also, have asthma.

There are government programs that should be of help to you. Welfare, Food Stamps, and others. These require that you set any remaining pride aside, and wait hours on a phone, a website, or a line. You do that gladly (and repeatedly), to no avail.

One agency takes the position you are another’s responsibility. A third unaccountably closes its file, sending you back to the beginning.

So on and so on. Bureaucratic errors and delays bring you to tears. You fear you may snap.

Your children have had little stability in their lives, apart from you. Unfortunately, you (and they) have more than once been evicted.

This is not the result of a cavalier attitude on your part toward finance.

To the contrary, you stretch your meager income as far as possible to meet expenses. Since there are never enough funds to go around, you pay bills in part, in alternate months, or allow them to go into collection. This applies to rent, as well.

Evicted and without savings, you sleep on a friend’s couch, effectively homeless. Your children may have to change schools again; may have lost their meager belongings to a lockout by the landlord.

Public housing is not an available alternative. The waiting list for subsidized housing in your state may be years long. Such housing is often dilapidated; the crime rate there, astronomical. Ceilings leak, toilets function only occasionally. Gunshots can be heard in the halls.

Younger children eat before older ones. You eat last, if there is any food remaining. More often than not, the refrigerator stands empty.

This is the face of poverty.  It is not the image any of us would choose for Thanksgiving. But it is the face of America as surely as that of Lady Liberty or Uncle Sam.  As we sit around our holiday tables, the rest of us would do well to remember that.

Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty…and did not minister to You?’ Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me’ ” (Matt. 25: 44-45).

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: http://www.alawyersprayers.com

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