Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Shame on us...

Despite my parents' various problems, I believe I had very secure and happy childhood. I was never abused. How lucky I was. It seems that accounts of child abuse, cruelty and even murder are now commonplace, almost everyday occurences. How terrible that is, particularly for those of us who have a horror of any kind of hurt or damage being inflicted on any child. I know that when I was a child, there was a completely different view of children from that which prevails now. Childhood was not idealized as it often is today. We were disciplined, by which I mean that we had clear definitions of what we were allowed and expected to do. Perhaps some of my contemporaries were physically abused in the course of that discipline, but I was not aware of that. Mostly, we accepted that we had to do what our parents expected of us. We probably didn't like it much, but that was life. And I'm pretty sure that that was one of the reasons why so many of us married young - to get away from our parents and their way of life. If this seems a very matter-of-fact description, it probably is. And I'm not saying that our lives were either better or worse. They were simply different. I only know that when I came to have my own children, and when I had the sole responsibility of bringing them up, I was a more compassionate and loving parent than my own had been. As many of my contemporaries did, I felt that showing my love for my children was more important than disciplining them - I didn't mind admitting that I was wrong either (and I often was). Don't get me wrong, I did have reasonable expectations of my children, and they knew where their boundaries lay, but I also wanted them to be happy and to know that they were loved. I'm sure that this belief brings its own complications - it's unrealistic to expect happiness to be a constant in our lives. And if we had no sadness, arguably we couldn't appreciate happiness when it came along. But how, when, where did it become so threaded through our society that little children should come into this world so unloved and uncared for that they are almost routinely abused and cruelly treated? How is it that our society actually tolerates this? I have seen, as most of us probably have, children being abused, shouted at and and hit in the street. And I have sometimes spoken out, and sometimes not. Why are we, as a society, afraid of these bullies. I wish I had the answer - and I wish that our society had the courage and the strength to actually do something about these abuses and frightful crimes. So our Social Workers are now overloading the system with cases of child abuse and neglect (in the wake of the fallout after the case of poor little Baby Peter) - because they are afraid that they will be seen to be inefficient. They might even lose their jobs! But how do the children feel? How do those poor little neglected scraps of humanity feel when they see yet another Social Worker walking away from them and leaving them in the "care" of brutal, ignorant and abusive adults? I don't have the answers, but I do have many questions. How many bruises to you have to see on a child before you realize that that child is being cruelly treated? How many reports of crying and screaming can you ignore? How many times do you send an injured mother and her children back to live with a violent and abusive partner? I often wonder how we continue to live in a society that allows these, and many, many more crimes against humanity. Heads down, we scurry on about our business, living our own lives, seeing only what is closest to us. Of course we can look after our own dear children, to the very best of our abilities. We can hold them close to our hearts and make the best possible future for them. And perhaps, in the end, that is the most we can do. I'm not religious, but I surely know that any person who abuses or hurts a child and ruins a young life is going to Hell for it. And for that reason alone, I hope there is a particularly nasty Hell reserved just for them.


Expat mum said...

M, an extremely poignant post. Wouldn't you like to strangle the abusers of innoccent children? (And indeed, are children anything other than innocent). However, the system is over-taxed and they make the wrong decisions sometimes. The answer is not to nit-pick over the indivual cases but to argue that there needs to be more people on "watch" (in whatever capacity that is) and to remember that some parents are very wiley.

Maggie May said...

I must say that things seem in reverse for me as I had to put up with verbal abuse & often too much physical as well, when I was a child.
I look at children today (in the area where I live) and think how fortunate todays children are to grow up with such confidence and in relative comfort!
Schools also seem to be so kind and caring today compared with the way they were when I was little. Seems like you & I lived in a completely different situations altogether.

However there is and always has been, terrible cruelty going on and it is sickening when you hear of it. Usually there is some terrible thing that hits the headline that makes us squirm & I do blame the Internet for a lot of the things going on today...... feeding each others' depravity. If that kind of thing happened when I was young, then it wasn't common knowledge.

When I was little, people generally did look out for other people's children and today people are too scared because of the implications if they even talk to another child.

Occasionally I come across a parent who shouts and makes a fool of them self & obviously that isn't doing the child any good. They are the type that would punch your face if you interfered..... but that is usually on my travels, that I see this.

I am staggered by some modern day things.... like a child who is put into a Breakfast Club, who then goes on to school & then goes straight to The After school Club! What a very long day. That seems to be legal cruelty! Why have a child if never at home?

Nuts in May

Anonymous said...

I am sure abuse has always been rife.The bullies always pick on the vulnerable and all abusers are bullies of one shape or another.
May be we hear more about it today as the media highlight it and there is much more infrastructure out there to highlight it too.
Good post ,glad I stoped by ,see you again

Donna said...

Amen...but I want you to know that when I see some idiot abusing a baby, I stand "toe to toe" with them on it! I Will Not Allow it to happen while I'm a witness to it! I Have done on Several occasions!hughugs

A Mother's Place is in the Wrong said...

Hi Expatmum, thanks so much for your comments. Yes, I would have no mercy I'm afraid. Children have to be so brave it seems to me, and I can't bear to think of them being hurt in any way. as for those parents who cover it up - well there's good to say for that! M xx

Dear Maggie, poor you, those were definitely not happy memories for you. And yes, you're right, there are many privileged children today.
And as for the Breakfast Club through to After School Club brigade, I agree absolutely. Those poor children are doing more than a day's work. M xx

Hi Valleys Mam, and thanks for stopping by. It seems we are all aware of these things, but don't seem able to do much about it. Poor little ones, they certainly don't deserve such treatment. M xx

Dear Donna, lovely comments as always - and I'm sure you always have a good effect on those people. I've often stood up to bullies too, and had a mouthful of bad language as a result. Not that that matters, if only it would change things! M xx