There is a saying that the youth is the future of any country. Hence, a country like the Philippines is in a so-called “sweet spot” because the average age is 25.7 against the global average of 30.7. We also know this: it is not just the quantity but the quality. What kind of children are we raising?
According to International Labor Organization, child labour is work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential, and their dignity. It is harmful to physical and mental development. In the Philippines, there are 2.1 million child labourers aged 5 to 17 years old based on recent surveys by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA). About 95% of them are in hazardous work conditions. 69% of these are aged 15 to 17 years old, beyond the minimum allowable age for work but still exposed to hazardous work.
We know this: the abuse, trauma, and neglect that children experience is something they carry throughout their lives. Hence, close to the heart of Jesus are those who have less in life in society: the poor, the migrant, the sick, the downtrodden, the widow, the women, the tax collectors, and the sinners. We also know that children had a special place in the heart of Jesus. “Let the children come to me.” Three prayers for Children:
- We pray for the parents of the Children. They are the very first catechist of Children. They plant the seed of faith in the hearts of the Children by the way they live out their faith. The best way to let go of their children, should the day come, is to know that they have the right values and morals.
- We pray for the government. May she truly look after the welfare of the Children. May she safeguard the well-being of the Children. This is also true for the Church.
- We pray for all those who were once children. May we be able to process the wounds we experienced as children. Otherwise, the pain, the anger, and the fear will just affect the people around us.
In closing, let me share with you a classic poem by Dorothy Law Nolte:
If a child lives with criticism, he learns to condemn. If a child lives with hostility, he learns to fight. If a child lives with ridicule, he learns to be shy. If a child lives with shame, he learns to feel guilty. If a child lives with tolerance, he learns to be patient. If a child lives with encouragement, he learns confidence. If a child lives with praise, he learns to appreciate. If a child lives with fairness, he learns justice. If a child lives with security, he learns to have faith. If a child lives with approval, he learns to like himself. If a child lives with acceptance and friendship, he learns to find love in the world.