Oblivion is bliss. Wait I thought the saying was “ignorance is bliss”? Well it might be, but today I’m talking about the kindergartner sitting in their classroom filled with bright colors and happy faces who is totally zoned out. Little Tommy is zoned out to the point he doesn’t hear the teacher calling his name or see Little Sophia reaching over to share her markers. He doesn’t feel anything. He chose to not feel anything because it was better than feeling the welt on his head where daddy threw a beer can at him that morning and remembering the yelling fight between his parents. Being oblivious was better than feeling the gnawing pain in his stomach because he wasn’t given dinner or breakfast because mommy was “busy”.
But Little Tommy is a rare happenstance right? Only drug addicts or alcoholics abuse their kids right? Unfortunately no, abuse happens in many families. Today in lecture we talked about some of the psychiatric disorder kids suffer from after suffering abuse. I was a little taken back myself. Oklahoma ranks #8 in the nation for abused children. In 2015 there were 31 deaths due to abuse and just over 55,000 investigations of reported abuse. These numbers are huge! And they have so many far reaching implications for everyone in the family, community, and state. These kiddos don’t grow up to be better versions of their parents, in fact there were over 9,000 arrests of kids under the age of 18 in the state in 2016. If they make it to adulthood without being criminals, they are much more likely to struggle with developing meaningful relationships (teen pregnancy anyone?), depression, heart disease, and a host of other problems occurring from extreme chronic stress and trauma. It shouldn’t surprise us that Oklahoma is #2 in the nation for heart disease; many of these cases stem from people suffering immensely in their childhoods. These statistics should break our hearts and cause us to question, where did we go so wrong?
Neglect was listed as the largest category of abuse in recent studies in Oklahoma with the largest category being kids 3 and under. Choosing not to feed kids, keep them appropriately dressed, not showing affection, and other forms of neglect are sooo preventable! Why is this an issue? The answer may surprise you. There is so little of the Gospel and the hope the gospel provides. No hope means more drug and alcohol abuse so kids get forgotten. No truth means we have no reason to care for others besides ourselves. No gospel means we don’t understand love and what it means to be affectionate to our kids. No accountability means we forget to develop patience with the little buggars when they are on our nerves and don’t put their needs above ours. Oklahoma needs an ocean of truth and hope that only the gospel of Christ will provide.
What You Can Do
For starts, go home and hug your kids. Tell them you love them. Teach them the gospel. Show them by example how to share the gospel with others. Then choose to step out of oblivion yourself, interact with your community, advocate for kids who are suffering, encourage parents who are struggling, be the parent you know your kids need.
If you struggle with addiction, intimate partner violence, or just with anger towards your kids, know that it is okay to not be perfect. Kids don’t need perfect, they need a parent who recognizes when to get help. Counselors aren’t just for crazy people, medications can be helpful, and being honest with those around you can inspire others to seek help too. Choose to be different and let’s make Oklahoma different. If you’re up for the challenge you can prayerfully consider adopting a kiddo who has a challenging home situation and help them join the 2400+ Oklahoma kids adopted every year. There are so many ways we can all seek improvement. Seek out how God can use you to make a difference.
Be more than a statistic, be a parent.
Below are additional resources and statistics: