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It is urgent to reflect on the issues and challenges of childhood, both as a society and as local churches.
November 20 is the World Children's Day, a date when the media offer a space to the reality of children.
The risk is to give just a quick and superficial look at the reality. But just leaning to the surface, we can perceive several challenges that would be worth deepening.
One of them is the demographic challenge. Europe leads the worldwide drop in fertility rates. According to the experts, the reasons are diverse, but some figures are incontestable.
It is increasingly difficult for young couples to consolidate a life project. In many European countries, it takes longer to enter the labor market, job precariousness stretches over time, and women choose or have to delay or forgo giving birth.
This imbalance between vital and biological maturity barely appears in the political debate, despite the consequences that this situation can have for the society as a whole, such as the problem that many European countries have with the decrease of the pension savings fund.
INDIVIDUALISM AND LACK OF RESPONSIBILITY
This socio-economic situation goes along with a prevailing individualist philosophy, what some sociologists call the prolongation of adolescence. We stretch a life stage in which responsibilities are scarce.
Our consumer culture encourages self-satisfaction and eludes sacrifice. And there are not many counterweights which offer a positive promotion of family, quite the contrary.
What is the situation of children in Europe?
In Spain, for example, the NGO Save The Children reported that one out of three children is at risk of social exclusion. What are we doing to change this situation?
On the other hand, we see with concern the advance of gender ideology in health care and education. Governments are trying to impose a vision of sexuality that does not have scientific support, while at the same time questioning the capacity and responsibility of parents in the education of their children.
CHILDREN IN OUR CHURCHES
How do Christians respond to this challenge? What happens in the churches?
As Javier Martín, coordinator of an emerging Working Group for Children of the Spanish Evangelical Alliance, says: “We should continue to be amazed at the place Jesus gave children in His Kingdom”.
Is this gospel reality reflected in our churches? These challenges related to childhood need to be addressed seriously and urgently.