March 1, 2024

13 People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place His hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. 14 When Jesus saw this, He was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” 16 And he took the children in his arms, placed His hands on them and blessed them.

We have growing and alarming issues on children in conflict with the law (CICL) and children in conflict with the family (CICF).

Sometimes we tend to blame these children for committing crimes and causing conflicts. To address the social, moral, and spiritual issue, we need to see the cause. It is not a sheer crime we throw to the children. We need to see our families first and see the involvement of society as a church, school, and government.

In 2018, I had a bad experience when my car was robbed in Bontoc, Mountain Province. The car was forced open and the bags of my friends inside were also obviously opened. My friends from Sagada were saddened because their money was not spared from the robbery. I was also alarmed that such crime happened in church vicinities.

Sometime in 2015, we installed CCTV surveillance cameras around the church and true enough it helped solve the problem.

I was grateful to Bontoc Municipal Police Station then and to the CCTV for helping solve the incident.

The CCTV footage clearly showed the culprit. The Bontoc MPS called my attention to meet with the suspect and his parents. The culprit was a grade 7 pupil.

on the moral evils of stealing. I helped him see himself through daily prayers and self-discipline.

The boy’s parents admitted the fault of their child. “Father Marcs, we are to be blamed for our child’s misbehavior. We admit as parents that we are not giving time for our children. We are so engrossed with our business. We get our items in Solano (Nueva Vizcaya) and bring them to Bontoc and Bauko. We gave more importance to our business over our children. We are sorry for this and we will make amends.”

Our church, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Sagada, was also robbed and vandalized. The culprits were children. I met with the children through the Sagada MPS and we found out that the three boys aged 12, 10, and eight years old came from broken families. The eight-year old kid reported the robbing incident to his mother because he was not given a share from the stolen donation box.

I met children suffering from anxiety and depression. Most of them come from families suffering from breakdown and parents with vices, especially illegal drugs, alcohol, and gambling.

We need to spend quality time with our children. Let them experience values at home. Let them feel the strongest support system, which is the family. Let them grow in love not in hatred.

Parents, teachers, priests, pastors, government officials, let us collaborate for these children. If we are serious about the work and promotion of peace, we must give justice to the children. Let us follow the instruction of Jesus: “Let the children come to me and do not hinder them.” We bring the little children to Jesus. He needs to bless them, embrace them, and put His hands on them. Only then that the children will grow well and be prevented from committing crimes.

To help solve the problem on CICL and CICF, let us be homes of love and peace where innocent children grow and experience self-respect and self-worth.

Let our families be homes for our children to enjoy Jesus and his teachings. Teach them how to play musical instruments and songs that will touch their hearts.

Dear parents, please give quality time to your children. Eat, pray, and sing together as a family.

Reach me at [email protected].