If you love children, the news headlines recently must have been difficult to read. In one recent issue of the newspaper, for instance, there were stories about:
• Parents who were granted $20,000 bond after their 5-month-old son was found dead in a roach-infested mobile home.
• A 10-year-old leukemia patient who has valiantly fought through four bone-marrow transplants and is back in school.
• A 7-year-old autistic girl who walked away from her home and drowned in a lake on Fort Gordon.
• A number of students who were suspended for the school term for offenses including buying a knife and hiding it near the bus stop on the way to class.
• A 15-year-old who was charged with holding up a gas station with a machete.
• A 14-year-old boy who is charged with shooting a 13-year-old girl to death.
• Three teenagers who pleaded not guilty to murder, criminal attempt to commit robbery, burglary and simple battery in a case in which another teenager was shot to death.
Most days, thank goodness, are not so full of reports on children who are sick or the victims of crime, accident or youthful indiscretion.
Still, anytime a child is in peril, the hairs on the backs of our necks should stand up in horror. Just seeing a parent dealing out harsh discipline in public is often enough to make us step into another family’s business.
As I wrote this, the men who are suspected of masterminding the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks were disrupting an arraignment hearing for them at Guantanamo Bay. That day, 9/11, didn’t discriminate between innocent adults and even more innocent children.
I don’t understand the thinking of people who commit such atrocities. I’ve especially never grasped how anyone could purposely harm children.
Surely, I’ve always told myself, none of the terrorists around the world could have children at home. Parents could never go on murder sprees that include children among their victims.
I was wrong, of course. The law of averages alone would suggest I’m off the mark. At least some of the people who destroy airplanes, buildings, markets and buses are parents.
How, then, could a parent blow up children? Do terrorists – provided they haven’t killed themselves yet – go home every night and hug their children? Do they tell them, “I love you”? Do they ever rethink their lives and get into another job?
Terrorist groups often recruit bombers who are still in their teens. Is that so the masterminds can indoctrinate them before they have time to reproduce and perhaps think twice?
This coming Sunday is Mother’s Day, and in a month, fathers will get their due. I think there’s even a day for grandparents.
Maybe we should have more days for children. In their case, no news really is good news.