All children are exposed to the violence of life. Some witness it firsthand. Others experience it through the media. An average American child will see 200,000 violent acts and 16,000 murders on TV by age eighteen. Worldwide, hundreds of thousands of children have been recruited into government armed forces, paramilitaries, civil militia, and a variety of other armed groups. More than 5.5 million children in Syria have faced the ravages of ongoing wars and violent civil unrest. Many children live in communities where terrorism is a nearly constant threat.
Sometimes violence keeps children from the benefits afforded them by a good education. This is true even in the United States. In the US, 7.1 percent of students did not go to school on one or more days in the preceding thirty days because they felt unsafe at school or on their way to or from school, according to a Centers for Disease Control survey. In addition, 20.1 percent of students reported being bullied on school property in the twelve months preceding the survey. It should be noted that the prevalence was higher among females (8.7 percent) than males (5.4 percent). In developing countries, 13 percent of children between the ages of seven and eighteen have never even attended school.
The harsh realities of childhood in developing countries are sobering. A staggering 400 million children around the world are living in extreme poverty (defined as living on less than $1.25 per day). One in three children in the developing world—more than 500 million children—have no access to sanitation facilities. And some 400 million children, one in five, have no access to safe water, and unsafe water and lack of sanitation cause about 4,000 child deaths per day, deaths that might still be preventable if not for the fact that 270 million children have no access to health care.
Every day, 21,000 children die as a result of poverty or poverty-related preventable diseases. Every 3.6 seconds, a person dies of starvation, and most often it is a child under the age of five. And while the toll of excess in prosperous communities and countries may be less tragic and is more difficult to quantify, there is a cost. In 2013, 42 million infants and children in the world were overweight or obese, and an estimated 70 million will be by 2025, leading to various chronic and even fatal health problems, including diabetes and heart disease. As our mentor Dr. Wess Stafford repeatedly states, “Satan’s strategy is to go after the weakest and most vulnerable people on the planet . . . our children.”
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