As we prepare to celebrate the birth of the Divine Child, we face some sobering numbers:
- There are an estimated 145 million orphans worldwide — more than enough little ones to go three times around the planet at the equator.
- A few years ago, the United Nations put the number of child victims of trafficking at 1.2 million. These children are bought and sold across national borders for sex and labor.
- At least 225,000 children in Haiti are household slaves, as extreme poverty causes parents to send their children into domestic servitude.
- Many thousands of children are forced to be soldiers in parts of Africa and Central America each year.
- The Alan Guttmacher Institute — the research arm of Planned Parenthood — estimates there are about 42 million abortions worldwide each year — 1.37 million in the U.S alone.
Is all of this depressing? Of course it is. But information can lead to action. There are many religious and secular organizations doing incredible work to relieve the suffering of children. Likewise, any gesture you can make — prayer, financial aid, microloans, volunteering, sponsorship, adoption, legislation — will make a difference.