St. George
Serbian Orthodox Church
Carmichaels, PA

Talk Given by Attorney Linda Chambers: Raising and Protecting Children Amid the Dangers in Today's World

St. George Serbian Orthodox Church Slava, May 12, 2013

When Father Rodney suggested the topic of Raising and Protecting Children Amid the Dangers in Today’s World, I wondered how I could be qualified to talk to you, especially to you Mothers on this Mother’s Day, because Butch and I were not blessed with children.

I might not have the experience of being a parent but, I can talk to you about protecting your children from the dangers I deal with as an assistant district attorney. Sadly, I have years of experience with children who have been abused both physically and mentally by adults. Sometimes the abuse is from strangers; more often it is not. I get satisfaction when I am successful in prosecuting those who hurt little ones but, that might mean the child’s mother or father are jailed. Yes, the child is protected from future harm if Dad is removed from the home but sometimes the family is destroyed and the child feels it is his or her fault. The justice system is continuously trying to provide support for families and individuals by establishing multi-disciplinary teams that include mental health professionals and medical personnel in addition to lawyers and police officers. We team members go into schools and talk to kids directly in an attempt to be pro-active and prevent abuse. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen a decrease in the number of child victims who pass through my office.

I can list suggestions for parents, like monitoring internet use, educating children about the dangers of drug use, researching backgrounds of those who will be in contact with kids… There are numerous resources available to provide advice to parents and caregivers so I won’t use this talk as lecture on parenting technique. Instead, I’ll share some of my observations.

Children raised in established and respected churches have a support system that extends beyond the multi-disciplinary teams I mentioned earlier. Yes, there has been much publicity about abuse by priests and pastors. Studies have shown that child abusers are often respected members of communities such as teachers, counselors and coaches. Let’s face it, kids don’t approach, let alone trust, creepy, sneaky strangers. But, I believe that the “respectable abuser” is exception… that the vast majority of children are surrounded by adults who have only good intentions. Kids who have a trusted pastor or priest seem to report abuse earlier and recover from the harm with less after effects.

The church gives a child a safe place, a loving protector and hope that the future will be better than the past. A belief in God can carry kids through the phases of recovery. Yes, I hear kids ask why God would let this happen to me. That is the opportunity for parents and guardians and clergy to teach the young about our faith, our church and about the relief of knowing that God will be with them through the pain. These children turn to their faith for comfort and reassurance that all will be well.

That being said, Father has also reminded me that this is our Slava, a happy occasion. So, to conclude my talk on a more cheerful note, I’ll read some “Letters to God” that I found on a website from St. Luke Orthodox Church in Illinois:

Dear God, Are you really invisible or is that just a trick? Lucy

From Sam: Dear God, I want to be just like my Daddy when I get big but not with so much hair all over.

Norma wrote: Dear God, Did you mean for giraffe to look like that or was it an accident?

From Mark: Dear God, I keep waiting for Spring but it never come yet. Don’t forget.

Dean wrote: You don’t have to worry about me. I always look both ways.

Dear God, Instead of letting people die and having to make new ones, why don’t you keep the ones you got now? Jane

Dear God, I went to this wedding and they kissed right in church. Is that ok? Neil

Dear God, I think the stapler is one of your greatest inventions. Ruth M.

Jennifer wrote: Dear God, In bible times, did they really talk that fancy?

From Joyce: Dear God, Thank you for the baby brother but what I prayed for was a puppy.

Dear God, Maybe Cain and Abel would not kill each so much if they had their own rooms. It works with my brother. Larry

Dear God, I bet it is very hard for you to love all of everybody in the whole world. There are only 4 people in our family and I can never do it. Nan

Finally, from Elliot: Dear God, I think about you sometimes even when I’m not praying.

So, raise your children in the Church, be an example to them with your faith and maybe they will think about God even when they are not praying!

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