Article: Young people deserve to be treasured and protected

Newry Cathedral News

The Bible has a lot to say about protecting and caring for children. As Christians, we believe that young people are a blessing from God and deserve to be treasured and protected. Therefore, it is alarming to find constant examples of the exploitation of young people by high profile members of society. This is quite simply wrong.
The book of Psalms says that children are a heritage from the Lord (Psalm 127:3). Jesus himself welcomed and blessed little children, saying the kingdom of heaven belongs to ones such as them (Matthew 19:14). As followers of Christ, we are called to follow his example of loving and protecting children. In response to abuse claims, too often the victim gets sidelined as people rush to defend the perpetrator.
Many young people in our world today become victims of abuse through poverty, so one of the most important ways we can protect children is by providing for their basic needs. 1 Timothy 5:8 says that anyone who does not provide for their family has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. As parents, caregivers, and members of the community, we have a responsibility to make sure children have food, clothing, shelter, and the care they need to grow and thrive. We protect them by meeting their needs with love and wisdom. 
The Bible also talks about training children in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6). Part of protection is guidance – teaching children right from wrong, how to make wise choices and how to walk in the path of righteousness. We should aim to nurture their moral and spiritual development just as much as their physical wellbeing. Children will always take their lead from adults even in adolescence.
Protecting children also means shielding them from potential harm or danger. In the world today vigilance is needed. Proverbs 4:23 tells us to guard our hearts above all else, for everything we do flows from it. As caring adults, we must be aware of threats or predators who might seek to take advantage of children. Technology has provided new avenues through which children can be exploited or abused. We must be their advocates and guardians in teaching them that they deserve protection.
Our goal should be that childhoods is filled with the care, nurture, and love. When we provide for their needs, train them wisely and shield them from harm, we are living out the Bible’s call to be defenders and caregivers of children. Let us follow the teachings of the Bible and not be influenced by social media etc into justifying harm to children and young people.