More than a week ago, Jayme Closs, a 13-year-old from Wisconsin, escaped her 21-year-old abductor who had killed her parents. When she turned up 66 miles from home, having been missing for almost three months, her relatives, her small town, and even the police celebrated. Her return from a horrific experience, especially for a child, became a riveting national news story for days on end.
I caught a report on Closs at NBC Nightly News just after I first read today’s piece by TomDispatch regular Karen Greenberg about what might be thought of as the global war on children (from the U.S.-Mexico border to Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and beyond). In reality, there’s a world of Jayme Closses out there and for most of them, unfortunately, no small towns are preparing to celebrate their freedom from a hell on Earth. Across this planet, children are essentially being abducted or worse in staggering numbers. In Yemen, they’re being starved to death by the tens of thousands. Across the Greater Middle East and parts of Africa, as Greenberg reports today, they’re being armed, sent into wars, killed in those wars, or displaced from their homes by them — and often sent fleeing across international borders. On significant parts of the planet, as Greenberg has pointed out before at this website, children are being deprived of their rightful futures in a host of ways. The cruelty toward, and mistreatment of, the young in this world should take our breath away. Unfortunately, while Americans may focus on an occasional Jayme Closs, the general abuse and misuse of children doesn’t hold a candle to the president’s tweets or his fantasy of a Great Wall. And that’s worse than too bad, as Greenberg suggests today.