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Op-Ed: The US should choose to protect its greatest asset – the children

Crowd of children (U.S. Air Force photo /Tech. Sgt. Jennifer D. Seidl / Released 97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs)
July 24, 2018

All opinion articles are the opinion of the author and not necessarily of American Military News. If you are interested in submitting an Op-Ed, please email [email protected].

In the beginning, our country established specific guidelines for its citizenry in order to provide and protect certain inalienable human rights. One such right is freedom from cruel and unusual punishment.

Yet hundreds of years later, this is one of the least enforced rights when it comes to our nation’s children. Children are forced into sex trafficking by criminal predators. Homeless at-risk teens are on the streets because of unchecked severe abuse, neglect and abandonment generally by known or related perpetrators. More than one-third of this nation’s future teachers, doctors, law enforcers, artists and entrepreneurs under the age of 18 are reported to the Department of Human Services. Nearly 1,800 citizens a year die from abuse before the age of five in this country. Who is protecting their rights?

Unless we stop the daily deaths of children, unless we stop those who prey on our young people for profit and perversion, unless we as a nation choose to protect the greatest assets we could ever have – our children – our country will never rise to its full potential.

Instead of flagrantly presuming “somebody else will handle it,” we need to make child protection and safety an immediate priority. Social systems, though well-intentioned, simply are not working. Medical clinics and ER rooms are filled with the residual exponential effect of our indifference to this human crisis. Mental health issues are prevalent in those who have been victimized sexually, physically and emotionally. Productivity in the workplace is challenging for victims who do not get the help and healing they deserve. Successful long-term relationships take enormous effort, counseling and time. Money can never replace what is taken by a criminal predator. Money can never restore innocence lost.

We wonder why so many tragic shootings and suicides occur year after year, yet we refuse to address the root causes. Violence against others or oneself is not surprising when it comes to victims of horrific acts such as child trafficking and multi-level abuse. Neglect and abandonment constitutes abuse yet it happens every minute of every day in the lives of our vulnerable youth.

While we may not eat our young in this country, our national apathy toward this population allows their innocence to be consumed and traded like cattle at auction. Every time a child is slapped, hit, violated, locked up, starved, bullied, mentally and emotionally tortured or sexually sold for profit, our nation loses a precious piece of its future.

America’s children will continue to suffer unspeakable consequences as long as we choose not to enforce and protect their basic human rights. As long as we keep secrets from each other. As long as we “don’t say anything” and go about our own business. As long as we wantonly protect those who participate in and facilitate depraved activities from the comfort of their homes, their schools, their churches, their country clubs, their boardrooms and even their political communities. Until we put a stop to these activities, we will be a nation of hypocrites.

The choice is ours to make. Enforce each and every human’s basic rights regardless of age.

Andi Buerger is an international speaker, corporate trainer, educator (junior/senior high; college), business owner, writer, media talent, public relations and marketing consultant, nonprofit executive, and community ambassador. Andi’s work ethic earned favor early on with CEO’s of such Fortune 500 companies as ABC Worldwide Video Distribution, Multnomah Publishers (where she was a Senior Publicist for authors such as Thomas Kinkade, Russell Cronkhite, Randy Alcorn, and Kim Meeder), TDM/McGraw-Hill, New Vision International, Disneyland Resort and Hotel (Anaheim, CA), Eagle Crest Resorts/JELD-WEN, and more. She is the current Executive Director and Co-Founder of Beulah’s Place, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization providing temporary shelter services to at-risk homeless teen boys and girls.