Not for Sale
Each year this second Sunday in September is observed as Safeguarding Sunday (formerly Child Protection Sunday). Safeguarding embraces not only children, but also vulnerable adults. This past week has been National Child Protection Week, an important event in our national calendar since 1990, aimed at raising awareness of the need and duty we all have to protect the most valuable “asset” of our country, our children. There is nothing more important than ensuring every child and teenager has the opportunity to enjoy their childhood which should be happy, creative, adventurous and safe from all forms of abuse. As with all these “yearly observances” we can easily become a little complacent and think “I’ve heard it all before” or “that’s someone else’s responsibility”, whereas it is the responsibility of us all to create a safe environment for God’s little ones.
This Sunday is a yearly reminder for each of us and all of us together to play our small but important role in safeguarding God’s little ones.
Any complacency on my part went out the window last Monday when I decided to go the movie “Sound of Freedom”. It is based on a real life, heart-wrenching story of a U.S. Homeland Security agent who goes to Colombia to rescue children from six traffickers. “God’s children are not for sale” takes the movie right to the heart of the evil which is kidnapping, trafficking and selling vulnerable children. The agent, Tim Ballard, who had children of his own and a supportive wife (it’s a real life story) is played by Jim Caviezel, who also played the role of Jesus in the move The Passion of Christ. Caviezel said his role in “Sound of Freedom” was the second most important film he has acted in after The Passion of Christ.
The Director of the film, a Mexican, Alejandro Monteverde, grew up in Mexico where children were afraid of being kidnapped. But in making the film he came to realise that many children in sex trafficking are manipulated and groomed by adults and not kidnapped, and that much sexual abuse of children happens in the home. Monteverde, the Director, also said that children are a world heritage and the abuse of a child or children has a ripple effect. “If a child gets abused in Russia or in Haiti, eventually that pain will travel”, and one way it travels, of course, is by the internet (the Dark Web).
It is estimated that 1.2 million children are trafficked annually and that worldwide as many as 10 million children are trafficked in modern forms of child slavery, some for slave labour, some for sexual abuse. The movie “Sound of Freedom” sheds some light on this darkest of evils in the world today.
I left the theatre wanting to talk to others about this movie. It has given me a deeper and better understanding of this thing we call “Safeguarding”.
May the week ahead be a happy and safe week for us all. And if you are a parent hug your children, young and teenagers, and tell them that you love them.
Fr Brian Connolly