1600 Reasons to Respond

Compassion Day 2010If you’ve had something to eat today … if you had somewhere to sleep last night … if you know where your next meal is coming from … please take just a few minutes to consider being part of Compassion Day 2010.

Throughout today a number of radio stations across Australia are encouraging listeners to sacrifice $44 a month to change the world one child at a time. As someone who has seen the work of Compassion first hand, I can assure you that this is vital work which is quite literally saving lives.

Compassion does amazing work and when you sponsor a child through Compassion you are impacting many people in the life of that child. You can help turn a whole community around by the simple act of sponsoring a child.

If you have children of your own this is a great start in teaching them the responsibility we have to reach out to those in less fortunate circumstances. It’s such a joy to hear our son James pray for Collens, our sponsored child in Haiti, every night.

On Thursday, April 29 radio listeners across the nation will have 1600 reasons to respond when stations join forces with Compassion to see 1600 children sponsored in just 16 hours. This year’s focus is on the children of East Africa, specifically Kenya, where 20 per cent of the population lives below the international poverty line, 1.2 million people are living with HIV/AIDS, 2.5 million children are orphans and where a third of women between 15 and 49 have suffered from genital mutilation.

This is the eleventh year for Compassion Day and we’re hoping that Australia wide 1600 children will be saved from poverty. Will you be part of Compassion Day by sponsoring a child?

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Porn in Public

The debate over whether pornography can ever be acceptable looks set to continue and you and I may have very different views but there’s currently a push that is gaining widespread agreement from various members of the community.

Walk into just about any service station, newsagent or a variety of other shops and you’re likely to come face to face with highly sexualised images on the covers of soft porn publications or what have become known as lads’ magazines. There’s a growing backlash against such magazines being placed in public view and many are calling for tougher restrictions to move certain publications out of the view of children and young teenagers.

Do we really want our sons and daughters to think that the provocative poses displayed on the cover of these magazines should be accepted as normal and appropriate for public places? This is not about banning the sale of such publications, it’s about removing them from public view.

My regular Wednesday morning guest on 98.5 Sonshine FM is Ross Clifford who is the Principal of Morling College in New South Wales and Vice President elect of the Baptist World Alliance. Each week we chat about a range of issues relating to spirituality and belief.

Today we discussed the display of pornographic material in shops and while Ross was speaking from a spiritual perspective he pointed out that it’s not just the ‘religious right’ having a whinge. Many people from a variety of walks of life are saying, “enough’s enough”.

Often in such cases we can be led to believe that there’s no turning back and that it’s just something we have to put up with but that’s not the case at all. Ross spoke about a variety of things we can do that will have a real effect including visiting Say No 4 Kids to become better informed on the issue and to sign their online petition.

Melinda Tankard Reist is a Canberra author, speaker, commentator and advocate with a special interest in issues affecting women and girls. She has recently written an article titled
Get porn out of the corner store say child health experts and advocates which highlights the issue and links to other coverage of the debate, including opinions from a group of child experts.

Are you someone who is tired of seeing unsuitable images everytime you go shopping? Are you concerned about the message it’s giving to impressionable young minds? Are you prepared to put in a little effort to see change occur?

Click the play button of the audio player at the bottom of this post to hear what Ross had to say and then decide what you can do to bring change.


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Gumby creator dies aged 88

GumbyArthur C. Clokey, the creator of Gumby, brought a lot of happiness to a lot of children. His legacy lives on with many Gumby products still available for sale today. Sadly his childhood wasn’t as happy as many of those he entertained. Art died peacefully in his sleep the morning of the 8th of January at the age of 88.

After the Gumby series, Art Clokey went on to create the Christian animation series, Davey and Goliath. The Lutheran Church and Art Clokey teamed up to make the first Davey and Goliath episode in 1960 called “Lost In A Cave”. In 2004 Art Clokey’s son, Joe, produced a new episode, “Davey and Goliath’s Snowboard Christmas.”

I loved my Gumby toy when I was a child and I still have a Gumby on my desk at work. Gumby is a reminder of a happy childhood. I didn’t know the truth behind the childhood of his creator until today.

When Clokey was 9 years old, his parents divorced and he stayed with his father. After his father died in a car accident, he went to live with his mother in California, but was placed in a half-way house orphanage after one year because his stepfather did not want him around. At age 12, he was adopted by Joseph W. Clokey, a classical music composer and organist who taught music at Pomona College in Claremont, California, and who encouraged young Arthur’s artistic inclinations. The aesthetic environment later became the home of Art Clokey’s most famous character, Gumby, whose name derives from Art Clokey’s childhood experiences during summer visits to his grandfather’s farm, when he enjoyed playing with the clayey mud called “gumbo.” – Wiki

What a sad start to life for Clokey but what an amazing turn around.

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Sex, Children and Purity

I’ve posted a couple of times before about children growing up too fast and the oversexualisation of young children. I still get regular search engine hits on my blog from people looking for answers about how to deal with sensitive subjects with their children.

How old should my kids be before I talk to them about sex? What should I tell them? Are my children being influenced by what they see on television or the internet? How can I help my children to stay pure? These are some of the questions with which many parents struggle.

Our kids are having their sexuality awakened a long time before they’re mature enough to make responsible decisions regarding their bodies. Can’t we just let kids be kids?

I was amused a couple of years back when we were having a family picnic in a park to see a group of very young girls, perhaps around the age of 11 or 12, who were all dressed in skimpy skirts and tiny tops playing on the playground equipment. They had bought the lie that they had to look ’sexy’ but deep inside what they really wanted to do was play like the children that they were.

Padded bras and lacy underwear sets are just a couple of the items that are being sold and aggresively marketed to girls aged from 7 to 12 in our shopping centres. Sex is being used to sell pretty much everything and it seems that it doesn’t matter who a product is being marketed to, sex sells.

“If the message is that you should be sexy and grown up, instead of being a kid – then kids aren’t practicing and learning how to be whole human beings that will actually make them into great adults. They are instead only imitating adult behaviour, without understanding it – and that’s very dangerous for their development”. – Amanda Gordon. President, Australian Psychology Society.

“I tell parents, ‘don’t buy sexy clothes for your children’. There’s nothing smart about having a 4 yr old in a little bra. It’s time for adults to take a stand, for parents to take a stand and say ‘this is what we want for our children’ – instead of children saying ‘this is what I want for me”. – Amanda Gordon. President, Australian Psychology Society.

“There is a concern that we are sending very conflicting messages to people. On the one hand, we’re telling people that children need to be protected – that paedophilia is regarded as one of the most heinous crimes – on the other hand we allow advertisers and marketers to present images and saturate our media with images that might be sexually arousing to some paedophiles in the community.” – Dr Louise Newman. Director, Institute of Psychiatry.

“Childhood is shrinking. We are exposing children to adult concepts that they can’t manage, that are developmentally inappropriate, and I think we are going to pay the cost for this in a range of emotional and psychological costs down the track.” – Dr Joe Tucci. Australian Childhood Foundation.

“Sex is being used to grab the attention of not just adults but kids as well. If the multibillion dollar ‘tween’ market is any indication, it’s a sales pitch that’s working”. – Dr Karen Brooks. Senior Lecturer Communication & Cultural Studies, University of Sunshine Coast.

“It is folly for us to pretend that the trend towards sexualisation of childrens fashion and advertising is harmless. It is part of a cynical but savage fight for our spending dollar, and the earlier children are pressed into thinking sexually, the earlier they will act sexually”. –
Rob Robertson. Ministerial co-ordinator, Australia. Setting Captives Free.

In this sex saturated society, avoiding the topic with our children simply hands the responsibility to someone else. Our kids will hear about sex one way or another so we need to decide if we want our children to hear about our values or the values of Holywood and the marketers.

If you’re struggling with what to say and do in this regard, you may be interested in a couple of new websites.

Purity Paradigm is a website dedicated to a Christian understanding of purity. This is not just a ‘say no’ kind of website. It’s a site that comes from a real understanding of the issues. It’s written by Heather McEwan and it comes from life experience and a true desire to understand how to help young people make choices that won’t come back and bite them in later life. I wrote an endorsement for Heather after having her as a guest on my morning radio programme some time ago.

Heather McEwan is so obviously passionate about ‘doing family well’ especially in matters of purity. That passion is displayed not only in the way that she presents her material but in the material itself.

Heather speaks from experience backed up by exhaustive research. When Heather talks about a subject you can guarantee that she has consulted a number of sources to ensure she is presenting the very best.

Heather’s heart is burdened by her desire to see young people growing into mature adults, free from the emotional hurts and scars that can come from wrong decisions.

She is also passionate about seeing people of all ages find healing and release from past decisions, allowing them to move confidently into the future God has planned for them.

If you want to keep up with some of the other things that occupy Heather’s heart and mind, check out her new blog Mama Frazzle.

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Cats in the Cradle

Phone.jpgDo you remember the song Cats in the Cradle by Harry Chapin? It tells the story of a father who is too busy to spend time with his son and when his son gets older he becomes just like his dad. He becomes too busy to spend time with his father.

I was reminded of that song while I was at the movies with Emily and James on the weekend. We went to see Monsters vs Aliens. A great animated flick.

A guy with a son aged around 6 or 7 sat next to us. While it was nice to see that he was taking him to the movies on a Saturday morning it was disheartening to see that he was on the phone at least three times during the movie. Admittedly he kept his voice very low and wasn’t really disturbing those around him but it made me so sad to think that he couldn’t switch his phone off for just a couple of hours to totally enter into spending time with his boy.

I wonder what kind of message that was giving the boy. Dad’s willing to take him to the movies but he’s not really interested in the things that interest his son. Dad will sit next to his son but he’d rather be talking to someone else.

The shocking truth is that I’m not the perfect parent. In fact I’m nowhere near being the perfect parent but some things are fairly obvious. If we want our children to feel loved and accepted we need to spend time with them. We need to give them our undivided attention. We need them to know that they are vitally important to us and that there are few things that are more important than spending time focussed on building relationship.

Just as in the song, a day will come when we want to know that we’re important to our children. When that day comes they’re likely to treat us as we’ve treated them. That’s either a frightening or comforting thought depending on the messages we give our children when they’re young.

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