Three-year-old Caylee was innocent, as is every child who falls victim to abuse. The death of a child is always tragic beyond words, and the particulars surrounding this case are almost too difficult and inconceivable to digest.
When you look into those eyes, what do you see? I see the sweetness of a little girl whose life has only just begun, who has hopes and dreams and wants but one thing: to be as loved as she is loving.
The jury has rendered their verdict, and as a society we must do likewise. Will we ignore the underlying concerns of this case – or rise up and work to address them?
One of any culture’s greatest treasures is the innocence of its children. We know it when we see it, and love it when we do: in the laughs and giggles, in the wide eyes and wonderment, in the carefree hugs and gentle kisses of our children after a long, hard day.
But the expression of childhood innocence is more than a mere source of entertainment for adults. It is even more than a pleasant way for a child to grow up. Childhood innocence is fundamental to their faith, and when it’s prematurely stolen from one, it adversely affects all. No child is an island; one regularly influences another, be it in the classroom or on the playground.
What comes of a society that will not tirelessly protect its children and their interests? What comes of a culture that does not value its children, considering them to be more burden than blessing?
A world with more tragic cases like Caylee Anthony.
We must recommit ourselves daily to the task of one of our main responsibilities as Christians, whether we’re young, old or somewhere in between: To train up a child in both mind and body, and in doing so, help our children preserve their innocence throughout key developmental stages of life. The reason is as practical as it is philosophical. If a child learns early on not to trust an adult, it often becomes increasingly difficult for them to trust God with their life later on. Simply put, there is frequently a strong correlation between the early loss of innocence and later rebelliousness with God.
Nevertheless, our faith reminds us that God can rescue and redeem every last thing, even the tragic death of a little girl from Florida named Caylee.
No matter who you are or where you live, you’re called to positively influence children and help them understand who God is and that He loves them exactly as they are. “Whoever welcomes [a child] in my name welcomes me,” said Jesus.
It’s my prayer that in the wretchedness of this death and the aftermath of this trial that our society will be reminded again about the beauty and worth of every human life.
This case has sparked a tremendous amount of emotion and reaction, and so I’d welcome your thoughts and perspective.
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About Jim Daly
Jim Daly is president of Focus on the Family and host of its National Radio Hall of Fame-honored daily broadcast, heard by more than 2.9 million listeners a week on more than 1,000 radio stations across the U.S. He is husband to Jean and father to Trent and Troy.
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