According to the CIA World Factbook
According to the CIA World Factbook (proof, I suppose, that spy agencies have a positive role to play on earth), around 27% of the world’s population is under 15 years of age. And according to the constantly escalating World Population Clock, at the time of this writing earth had 6,638,512,622 inhabitants. Which means that approximately 1.7 billion residents of this planet are under 15. Twenty percent of them live in China, 17 % in India, and 4.6% of them are here in the United States. What’s that have to do with Christmas and the approaching of a new year? Beyond the obvious—that this holiday season is always the season of children (a reality not missed by Madison Avenue with its relentless marketing blitz for toys and video games and other childhood accoutrements)—this 27% demographic slice of humanity is surely a silent cry for the world of adults to invest its best energies in saving our children. Not just spiritually, but also physically and emotionally. A new study, published in the January issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health and released this past Tuesday, has found that the simple matter of sex education for our children dramatically reduces (71% for males, 59% for females) the likelihood of their becoming sexually active before the age of fifteen. While the study does not research or report abstinence beyond the age of fifteen, those who care for children certainly can celebrate these results as an incremental victory in the war to protect our young. (http://www.newswise.com/articles/view/536167/) The matter of childhood poverty concerns us all, too, doesn’t it? Hershel Sarbin quotes “Voices for America’s Children” with this somber observation: “As a society we pay a steep price for allowing one in five of our nation’s children to live in poverty. Economists estimate the annual national cost of persistent childhood poverty due to lost adult productivity and wages, increased crime, and higher health expenditures is massive: approximately $500 billion or four percent of the nation’s gross domestic product.” (http://www.connectforkids.org/node/5761) One in five children living in poverty? Shouldn’t Benton Harbor’s proportion of that statistic be of deep concern to us at this university? Christmas is the season of children. After all the Hero of his-story and our story came to us as the Child. And because he did, heaven’s agenda to save all earth children (young and aged) was both ratified and secured. Knowing that the Christ Child is the lover of all children, why not look for an opportunity every week of the new year to make a difference in the life of one child (a smile, a note, a word of affirmation and encouragement, a listening ear, an offering to a children’s fund, a contribution to a church school or a public school, a gift of volunteer service at school or at church—God’s list of opportunities must be endless)? Thus in our own “adultish” sort of way, we can make the new year be for us what it already is for God—the Year of the Child.