Opinion: Bless the Beasts And the Children

From The Dillon County Guardian ad Litem Office
In the song Bless The Beasts and The Children performed by The Carpenters, one of the lyrics speaks about ‘children who have no voice, who have no choice’. A lot of media and social attention is given to the plight of children who live in poverty, especially in Third World countries. It is a tragedy in our world today that any child could go hungry. Just as tragic, but with less media and social attention is the abuse and neglect children suffer, often at the hands of the people who are supposed to love and protect them. We cannot continue to turn a blind eye to the fact that abuse and neglect exists. Our world is imperfect and so are we, the people who live in it. Ask yourself these questions. In your professional and personal experiences, who has the least say and control over their lives? Who depends on and trusts adults to take care of them? Children.
So many times I am asked why do I volunteer? My answer is always the same. If not me, then who? Each case is different because each child is unique. One of the best parts about being a Guardian ad Litem is getting to know the children. I learn what their likes and dislikes are, what their dreams are and what they want to be when they grow up. Yes, sometimes it can be frustrating, but there are many things that are frustrating in life. Remember when you first learned to ride a bike? Wasn’t it frustrating because it didn’t go as you planned? You didn’t quit though. You kept looking for the right way, the best way. It’s the same for me when I’m considering the best outcome for the children for whom I advocate. It’s not about me, it’s about them. There is also a stereotype about families who are involved with the Department of Social Services. I can tell you from personal experience that these children come from all areas of our community, the poorest to the most affluent. Child abuse knows no financial or social status.
‘Light their way when the darkness surrounds them’. A Volunteer Guardian ad Litem is the one person who shines the light on the needs and wishes of the child whose family is involved with the Department of Social Services in a Family Court case. Since 1984, the South Carolina Guardian ad Litem Program has provided training to hundreds of people across the state who are willing to take a stand to advocate on behalf of a child. The free training I received gave me a foundation to build on. The county office staff has supported me and mentored me every step of the way. They also provide me with opportunities to continue my education as a volunteer on a variety of subjects that affect the children and their families.
Research demonstrates the effectiveness of Guardian ad Litem Volunteers in improving outcomes for children in care. Chief Justice Toal also recognized the vital role we play and signed an order, effective July 1, 2010, that a Guardian ad Litem Volunteer will be court appointed to every child in a Department of Social Service’s case. As someone who deeply cares about the future of our children and the society they are growing up in, I was humbled and honored by her words. To paraphrase one of Chief Justice Toal’s statements, “we believe programs such as the South Carolina Guardian ad Litem program have the requisite expertise and resources to best serve the needs of children in providing Guardians ad Litem in matters in which they are required”.
You may be asking yourself what you as one person can do to make a difference. The answer is simple yet powerful.
Be willing to give of yourself-your time, your talents, your passion to ensure that every child has a voice about his or her future. Talk with your family and friends about the need for Volunteers in Dillon County. By joining together as a community, we can make a difference. Won’t you stand with us to give them a voice, to give them a choice? ‘Bless The Beasts And The Children’

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