NO ROOM AT THE TABLE: Earth's Most Vulnerable Children

Donald H. Dunson, Author . Orbis $15 (141p) ISBN 978-1-57075-491-3

Dunson, a Roman Catholic priest, writes elegiacally about the plight of vulnerable children worldwide, with emphasis on those in the poorest nations. He untangles the many trials that children face by focusing first on abducted child soldiers, then on sexually exploited children, child laborers, hungry children, refugees and those suffering from AIDS and preventable diseases. He pulls off an amazing feat by writing fearlessly about these politicized topics without grinding an ax of his own; his agenda is simply that of an impassioned advocate. Underlying the entire book is the philosophical position that all of humanity is connected and that children who suffer and die are our children, and that we share responsibility for them—guilt for their plight and accountability for their rescue. The book is strongest when Dunson discusses situations he knows firsthand, such as the plight of AIDS orphans in Kenya and children who have escaped Joseph Kony's Lord's Resistance Army in Uganda. When he writes about topics he does not know personally, such as purported child sex abuse via the Internet, some of his more dramatic claims are inadequately documented. Although Dunson looks unflinchingly at the ugly realities, such as the frequency with which American men go on "sex tours" in Asia that almost invariably involve child prostitutes, the book is full of optimism, citing successful efforts to quell such exploitation as well as other crimes against children, and offering a practical appendix on what readers can do to help. (Dec.)

Reviewed on: 10/27/2003
Release date: 12/01/2003
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