There's been a surge of interest on the issue of child protection in Haiti lately, which is good. Well-intentioned Americans just want to get orphans out of the disaster zone right away. Many can't understand why doing so could ultimately harm innocent children. Estimates are that up to 1 million children may have lost one or both parents or are currently separated from their parents due to the earthquake.
Saundra, who's been doing an amazing job at covering the issues associated with disaster relief, gives these excellent words of caution on the issue:
Imagine that you're at work when whatever natural disaster is most probable in your state strikes....For now, the best way to help Haiti's children is to give money to reputable organizations. UNICEF, Plan International, and Save the Children are all involved in child protection on the ground.
...your niece and nephew have been taken by foreigners to be cared for in an orphanage. You are so thankful to hear that they survived and are determined to find them and care for them. Unfortunately, the neighbors don't know which organization took the children...
You are frantically searching for the orphanage when word reaches you that foreigners have begun flying plane loads of children out of orphanages to be adopted in other countries. You start to panic for fear that by the time you find this orphanage, it'll be too late....
I know several readers of this blog are working on child protection issues associated with the Haitian earthquake. Keep up the good work, and let us know if you're with an organization that is helping unaccompanied or orphaned children on the ground.