Most of the obstacles children face today are linked to the belief among adults that the prime duty of the individual is to make the most of their own life, rather than contribute to the good of others.......excessive individualism is causing a range of problems for children, including high family break-up, teenage unkindness, commercial pressures towards premature sexualisation, unprincipled advertising, too much competition in education and acceptance of income inequality. UK Good Childhood Inquiry Over the past 10 years, more than 20,000 American children are believed to have been killed in their own homes by family members. That is nearly four times the number of US soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. The child maltreatment and death rate in the US is triple compared to Canada and 11 times that of Italy. Millions of children are reported as abused and neglected every year. Europe, too, is not immune from child neglect. Take Britain for example. According to the 2010-11 figures from National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), ChildLine counsellors dealt with nearly 670,000 contacts from children about various problems, including bullying, sex abuse, violence and mental health issues. On average, every week in England and Wales at least one child is killed at the hands of another person. Children under one are the age group most at the risk of being killed at the hands of another person. Over 16,000 allegations of children suffering abuse were passed from the NSPCC Helpline to police or social services. It is almost customary for governments to respond to cases of child neglect by launching public inquiries. In the past, the outcome of such inquiries has led to either the social services playing a greater role in the prevention of the ill treatment of children or new legislation aimed at offering children greater protection from abusive parents. All too often these inquiries fail to stem the growing tide of child abuse pervading Western society. This has led some to call for tougher measures such as permanently taking children away from cruel parents, or even stripping them of their right to reproduce. It is highly unlikely that the government will make any headway in reducing the maltreatment of children. This is because the main cause behind child abuse is the unbridled individualism, which governments, sociologists and parents alike have repeatedly refused to acknowledge. Individualism is an important pillar of Western Secularism and dominates many of the relationships that exist between people in Western societies. It stipulates that people should put their interests first and foremost. This imbues in people a selfish mentality and encourages them to satisfy their own needs before the needs of others. Furthermore, it leads people to view responsibility as a burden and a hindrance towards the fulfilment of their selfish motives. Therefore, it is common to find people in the West, especially in the social sphere, entering and leaving relationships in order to avoid responsibility - all of which has a detrimental effect on the society. Hence, rampant fornication, abortions, single parent families, fathers avoiding child maintenance costs, mothers forsaking children to pursue careers, parents giving up children to foster homes and wanton child abuse are all symptoms of individualism. Western governments are unable to deal with the effects of individualism and the harm it causes to society. This is because the role of the government is to guarantee individualism for its citizens and not to impose restrictions on people's individuality. Therefore, the primary concern of government is the welfare of the individual and not the family or wider society. In Islam, the concept of individualism is limited to the relationship between man and God, and the relationship of man with himself i.e. in the matters of worship, foodstuffs, clothing and morals. In relationships that involve people, individuals are permitted to satisfy their needs provided that they do not violate the rights of other individuals or transgress the limits imposed by Islam for the welfare of the society. In all types of relationships, Muslims are required to seek the pleasure of God by conducting themselves according to laws prescribed by Islam. These laws when practiced produce a unique and distinct character for the human being; a character shaped by altruism and not selfishness. Islam promoted and raised high not only the relationship between the parent and child, but also that of family and society. Today, individualism threatens the social fabric of Western societies through the erosion of family values and violation of civil rights. Left unquestioned and unchecked, individualism will result in the fragmentation of both Muslim and non-Muslim communities. The Islamic attitude towards the family and society is much more responsible than the selfish outlook of secularism. Therefore, it is essential that Muslims in the West expose the shortcomings of individualism and endeavour to present Islam to non-Muslims, as the only solution to their societal problems. The writer is a political commentator, who specialises in Muslim affairs and global issues. Email: