During Christmas 1987, Sharon Batts took our nation by storm. PowerSource, a Christian Pop band out of Bedford, Texas, made headlines throughout our country with their hit single (released in 1986 but made a staple on holiday radios in 1987) about something real; something that very few people wanted to talk about. With a voice of innocence and sweet sincerity, Sharon mournfully sang about a national crisis then and now. Dear Mr. Jesus is a “child’s lamentation” for abuse.
When I first heard this song, I was overwhelmed with emotion. I felt a combination of anger, sadness, and fear. Sharon’s tiny voice singing for reason and resolution to something so large brought tears to my soul. Today, we can read about how the country responded to Dear Mr. Jesus. It touched many, was requested on the radio, and provoked a rise in calls to many child abuse hotlines during that time. When nine-year-old Sharon was asked to share her thoughts of the songs impact, she responded innocently, “I didn’t know it would ever come to anything this big.”
In and beyond our community, child neglect and abuse is a growing issue. An issue where excuses are made and indications are overlooked. The words that young Sharon sang forced our nation, at that time, to visualize the physical abuse of children.
Please don’t let them hurt your children
We need love and shelter from the storm
Please don’t let them hurt your children
Won’t you keep us safe and warm
These same words are a cry for all forms of child abuse to stop. It seems that people place so much value in music and entertainment; how revolutionary it might be to have awareness and prevention of child abuse regularly at the forefront of media. I wonder the response if Sharon’s song was aired or re-created today. Artist and songwriters of today like Matthew West (Broken Girl), Christina Aguilera (I’m OK), Martina McBride (Concrete Angel) are among others that have used their voices as vessels of hope for ending child abuse.
As you look forward to your holiday time with loved ones, consider the words of Dear Mr. Jesus. Should you hear it, pay attention to the complex thoughts that come from the lyrics. Take a moment to feel for the heartache of the children that are not so jolly during this time of year. For many of us this may be imaginable, but not our reality. As with the song, a child requesting love for all children can make the strongest of hearts feel a discomfort that makes them realize there needs to be a change.
Stay Focused on Child Happiness During the Holiday and Everyday:
- It is common for families to face challenges and frustration. There is so much to do and so many emotions that adults and children alike feel. Remember to stay calm with the children you care for before resorting to hitting or yelling in response to behavior challenges. Often intense anger or reactions come from other issues of an adult, not the child.
- As you may plan to attend adult-only holiday gatherings and events, assure a suitable sitter for your children. Make sure that you’re a child is comfortable with this individual as well. If your child can communicate, question their time and enjoyment with their caregiver.
- While visiting with new and familiar faces during this time of year, keep in mind to not force your child to give hugs and kisses to every friend and family member. They are children and should not be required to be overly affectionate if they do not wish to. If a shy hello is all a child is willing to give, that is okay.
- School-age children are home for the holidays. There are more possibilities of extended TV, electronic, and bed times. Many children will be given cell phones, tablets, and other devices for Christmas. Don’t provide permission without oversee! Check to make sure your children are watching and accessing appropriate shows, movies, websites, chat groups, and games. Don’t hesitate to check social media activity!
- Enjoy your family time! This may be one of a few opportunities where everyone is together with little rush. Laugh, love, and talk together. If you are fortunate to have time off, engage with your family, especially your children. Talk to them about what is happening in their lives, get a gauge on their wellness and happiness, grasp insight on what they want and believe in as children of this world that we live in today. You may be surprised by what you learn from engaging in conversation with a child of any age.
Have A Very Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year,
Community Educator at The Dragonfly House