The list of child safety stories in the media is huge. Haut de la Garenne in Jersey, where the possible remains of a dead child have been found (speculation is that it may be a fragemnt of a child's skull), child abuse cases in the courts in these normally peaceful Channel Islands, the missing Madelaine McCann along with the thousands of little children that disappear in Europe every year, and now the mysterious case of Shannon Matthews in Yorkshire.
One of the remarkable facts to emerge from the case of Shannon Matthews, who was abducted on her way home from school and held captive for 24 days before police broke down the door of the apartment where she was being held, is the time it took to locate her only a mile away from her home. The police, who mounted the second biggest manhunt in the history of their force to try and find her, pointed out that one of the reasons for the delay was the size of her extended family and the fact of there being over 1,300 registered sex offenders within a 30 mile radius! Of those, more than 300 were known to be paedophiles, and these are only the registered ones.
Has the world gone mad? How did so many men - and it is usually men - trade their dignity and peace of mind in order to violate innocent children? Is it the modern phenomenon of the Internet that is to blame? Or television? Well, they will have made things worse, that's for sure, but the sin of child abuse is as old as man himself. Child labour and child prostitution have been twin ills of society from long before technology took its recent giant strides.
Jesus spoke about the issue two thousand years ago. He warned that those who sin against little ones will face a court of justice much more fearful than any human judicial system. 'But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.' So it was a problem even in his day too.
Can any more be done? Only the spread of the gospel of Jesus Christ one by one to as many individuals as possible so that sinful hearts can be changed and cleansed. Also, we need to pray over our children daily, and when in prayer for our communities pray for childrens' agencies and the police to have success in their fight against this evil. In spiritual warfare terms, we must see this as an attack upon a section of our population least able to defend themselves and closest to the heavenly Father's heart. It comes from the pit and bears the fingerprints of Satan.
For that reason, if no other, we pray, 'Even so, come quickly Lord Jesus!'