Young People Today
It is often said that childhood is a time of happiness for all, even "the happiest time of life." For many children, however, this notion does not correspond to reality.
In industrialised countries, with low birth rates and high levels of technological development, many young people live in single-parent families. Often these young people spend a lot of time watching television or playing video games on the computer. Sometimes they suffer from physical or psychological neglect; in the worst cases, they are actually abused or abandoned. Family tensions and marital instability also can leave deep scars upon the developing child.
In poorer countries, the lives of many young people are made difficult bymaterial poverty, malnutrition, illness and war. Every day 40,000 young people in such countries die because of illness, malnutrition, or lack of adequate health care. Forty percent of young people in the "global South" live in poverty, and forty-two percent do not have access to drinkable water. There are 130 million children who cannot go to school and 250 million who must work.
Solidarity with Young People
Ever since it began in 1968, the Community of Sant'Egidio has turned its attention to the problems of yong people, who are among the most defenceless of the poor. These "little ones" have accompanied the Community since its inception. Their lives, as weak and as in need of help and protection as they are, have always shown us how much suffering indifference and loneliness can cause. Jesus' words "Anyone who welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me" (Lk 9:48) have been heard as a call to serve and love all young people, especially the poorest ones.