By Diane Houghtaling

Rob Hoskins, president of OneHope and author of "Hope Delivered," talks of attending a marketing conference for the Fortune 500. The men and women there discussed one of their top strategies. In order for a product to be successful in future years they said it must be ingrained in children by the time they are eight years old.

They werenít only talking about products that appeal to children such as toys or breakfast cereal. They meant any product. Their strategy is that to insure a product will still sell 15 years from now it must be instilled in young children who will be the future consumers.

They recommended eight principles to use that would capture the minds of children eight and under. Two of their suggestions were to use rebellion and sexuality. As Rob listened to this in disbelief, he finally asked if anyone else was concerned about getting into childrenís minds with rebellion and sexuality with no reference to character, ethics or values. He was totally ignored; no one answered his question.

As we look around the world we see the horrors of children exploited and suffering to a degree we canít even imagine. Terrorist groups have kidnapped an estimated 300,000 boys and girls to fight and die as child soldiers. Many are indoctrinated by having to kill their own families as their first victims.

Human trafficking has forced the horrors of prostitution upon hundreds of thousands boys and girls around the world. They are kidnapped, held prisoner, beaten and forced into relentless sexual abuse. And, yes, it is happening even in America.

Millions of children around the world are starving or dying from polluted water. Many of these have been forced to live on the streets and fend for themselves. Many are dying of AIDS.

Itís just not safe to be a child anywhere. First a child must survive the threat of abortion and even be born. Then many must survive child abuse in its various forms. Many are faced with addictions in their families, broken homes, hunger and poverty.

Yet even the children in America who have "good" lives, who are loved, fed, cared for and given the best opportunities are still not safe from having their minds corrupted by our marketing industry.

God loves children and places high value upon them. He expects us to do the same. Jesus says in Matthew 18:6, "But if you give [children] a hard time, bullying or taking advantage of their simple trust, youíll soon wish you hadnít. Youíd be better off dropped in the middle of the lake with a millstone around your neck" (The Message Bible).

Thatís pretty serious. So I ask along with Rob Hoskins, "Is anyone concerned about the children?" We may not be able to rescue all the children around the world but letís do all we can for the children that we can reach out to and help.

Hope Ministries Inc. is a Christian counseling center. If you want to speak confidentially with someone, call us at (845)482-5300.