From the beginning of time, there was violence in our society, yet not to the degree we see today. When Cain attacked Abel, one could argue that he was clearly out of order, but we can trace the behavior that caused the incident. Here’s the backdrop, Cain and his brother presented an offering to God from their respective areas of work. Cain the farmer gave produce, and Abel the herdsman, brought choice meats. God rejected Cain and his offering but accepted Abel. Cain became angry and depressed. Rejection set in and Cain said to Abel let’s go out in the field. We don’t have all the details of what happened but Cain slew Abel.
We are living in perilous times where random acts of violence don’t make sense. Who could have imagined a day where someone would enter an elementary school killing 20 innocent children ages six and seven, and the six adults that cared for them. The unwritten rule is children are a protected class. If you have a gripe it’s not supposed to be taken out on kids.
We have discovered that the rules have changed. There is an alarming number of children experiencing violence, coercion, and intimidation daily. These children have been randomly chosen because of their vulnerability. When my daughter was seven, a 13-year-old kid, four times her size, punched her in the nose. He was the neighborhood bully. When she came home crying with blood dripping down her face, it scared me because I didn’t expect this type of danger for my children. I warned them of everyday things like not to talk to strangers, look both ways before crossing the street, and always stay together. That day my heart sank and fear mounted because someone hurt my child and I felt powerless thinking this could happen again.
Parents have a lot to be concerned about these days. Safe places are no longer as safe as in previous times. There have been horrific mass shootings in schools, churches, clubs, malls, concerts and parks where families gather to have fun and hang out with friends in their communities.
The CS Mott Children’s Hospital at the University of Michigan conducted a national poll to find out what today’s parents’ top concerns were for their children. The poll revealed that parents of white and Hispanic children were concerned about bullying and cyberbullying, while parents of black children indicated their number one concern was racial inequality. These are genuine issues in our society. Children are taking their lives because of continual harassment and put-downs from bullies. Most of these bullying incidents happen in “safe” environments where parents are not present, like schools or recreational areas, leaving kids to fend for themselves.
Parents, I implore you to talk to your children about bullying and racial inequality. If you notice significant changes in behavior such as being more quiet than usual or sadness, don’t pass it off, inquire to know if there are underlying issues needing attention. Ask if they have experienced bullying, cyberbullying, or what they believe to be racial inequality. Discuss proper actions to take just in case these offenses show up. Identify persons that will be a haven where they may talk freely and feel safe, like a teacher, relative, youth pastor or friend. And, of course, assure your kids that you have their back.
For more information on these sensitive topics, check out stopbullying.gov and racism.com.