AN AMAZING FACT: In 1915, Dr. Henry D. Chapin reported that in infant-care homes throughout the U.S. nearly every child under two years died. The mortality rate was almost 100 percent. Knowing the babies were given adequate nourishment and cleanliness, he wondered what the problem was. He then discovered the policy at the time was “no coddling of the babies was allowed.” The babies died from lack of touch.
During WWII, an orphanage in London was a warehouse for a wave of unwanted babies. Children there were only given essential care like clothing, food, and shelter. It was all they could do just to attend to the many physical needs that were obvious. At this particular orphanage, the mortality rate was high. Fifty percent of all babies that came in died within a year and a half of their arrival. They simply did not know then, what we know today, about the importance of human touch and the role it plays in the physical, as well as emotional, well-being of babies.
Someone came up with the idea of touching the babies more, not just when they were fed or clothed. All workers, from the janitor to the director, were ordered to reach down and stroke or gently touch every baby they passed in the course of their day. They were not required to pick them up or spend any significant amount of time being physical. They just had to touch. The results of this new mandate were astonishing. Within two years, the mortality rate of infants brought to the orphanage dropped from 50 percent to 15 percent.
The 13th-century historian Salimbene described an experiment made by the German emperor Frederick II, who wanted to know what language children would speak if raised without hearing any words at all. Babies were taken from their mothers and raised in isolation. The result was that they all died. Salimbene wrote in 1248, “They could not live without caressing.” Nor can anyone else. Human babies definitely need tender loving care to survive. Untouched adults may not die physically, but they will experience emotional and social atrophy.
Could this be why everywhere Jesus went He touched people? Whether He was blessing children or healing a leper, Jesus made it a point to reach out and lovingly touch people. Who will you bless today with your touch of Christian love?
KEY BIBLE TEXTS
And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean. Mark 1:41