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Matthew D. Farley


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. . . But we have systematically removed God from our schools. Should we be so surprised that schools would become a place of carnage? – Mike Huckabee
Recent events in Newtown, Connecticut, in the United States should cause people of every clime around the world to do more to protect the children of the globe. On Friday, December 14, 2012, none of the parents of those 20 innocent six- and seven-year-olds could have imagined the nightmare that awaited them.
The last thing any parent wants to hear is a call from the school that their child or ward is injured, far less brutally murdered, massacred.
But while most of the world was cringing with revulsion, guess what was happening? According to, gun sales spiked nationwide after the massacre of those 20 babies, all of whom had hardly “seen a star pitch”. But neither the incident nor the reaction is new. The fact is that after every instance of mass shooting, people always rush out to fortify their own safety but by so doing put that of others increasingly at risk.
A trip around the world would perhaps caution against any analysis that suggests that God is punishing innocent children, for the most part, because the great big United States has forgotten Him and thrown Him out of its schools. But first, here are some hard facts.
According to “There are 270 million guns circulating in America, and 40 per cent of the population owns at least one. There are at least 650 million small arms circulating on our planet, one for every ten people, which kill at least 500 000 human beings a year.”
But the massacre of innocent children is not an American phenomenon, it is a human habit. In an Edward Wong article published in May 2010 (, a landlord with a kitchen cleaver barged into a kindergarten in central China, hacked to death seven children, their teacher and her mother and returned home, taking his own life. It was the fifth assault on schoolchildren since March in that year. All the incidents involved middle-aged men in small towns expressing violent grievances against the most vulnerable and cherished members of their communities.
While the Americans blame the liberal gun laws that put a high premium on the right to bear arms, the situation in Beijing is blamed on other factors. A spate of atrocities saw a man stab eight children to death outside an elementary school in south-eastern China in March. The authorities have ordered the police and paramilitary troops to patrol schools. They also ordered news outlets to use only the official, terse accounts of the killings provided by the Xinhua News Agency, and have kept the news off broadcast television almost entirely. But some commentators argue that the underlying tensions in Chinese society cannot be addressed by security measures and censorship.  
It is bad when children are murdered at the hands of strangers, but when mothers kill their own flesh and blood or the children of others, it is even more reprehensible. In 1999, a Japanese housewife strangled her friend’s two-year-old daughter using a scarf and buried her body in her parents’ backyard. In May 2000, another Japanese mother was charged with trying to kill her young daughter by poisoning her with tea in order to collect a lucrative insurance policy.
Whether children die singly or in large numbers, it represents a crime against the innocence of humanity that can never be rationalized no matter how much we intellectualize it. If I were to include the 3 000 unborn who die daily in the United States, turning their mother’s womb into a veritable graveyard, I might be accused of sensationalizing the issue, but murder in any form or fashion must be exposed for what it is, especially when it involves innocent children who have done nothing to offend the world.
But are we in the Caribbean faring any better? Of course we are! There are no mass killings of our children. Our schools are pretty safe even though we adopt a half-baked approach to security. Yet, a toddler can drown at sea and no one is charged as the crime remains unsolved. A two-year-old child can be seen taking a nocturnal walk across the street while her mother is alleged to be out feting.
All over the developed and developing world innocent and vulnerable children, an inheritance from God, are left grossly unprotected in their homes, in their schools and in their communities where safety is often less than a priority. The outrage that often follows is never commensurate with the gravity of the pain and the loss of these helpless, innocent souls. No tear shed is enough to compensate for the bloodshed and the lives lost.
The irony is that while we protect ourselves from the ravages of HIV/AIDS and other diseases, our children remain largely unprotected from human-induced violence and savagery! Unless each of us champions this cause on our children’s behalf, we become accomplices in this heinous destruction of our future.
• Matthew D. Farley is a secondary school principal, chairman of the National Forum on Education, and a social commentator. Email [email protected]