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Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Who is accountable for the rise in neglect?

I was checking all my various social media sites today and came across a post asking to share against child cruelty which I did.  Someone asked if it was abuse to leave a child on the street and I replied yes it was. I was then asked a question regarding this, which gave me food for thought.  I was asked who was to blame for this type of abuse and it was also stated that the ones that survived today would be raised in abuse and thus turn out to be tomorrows problem.  

This saddened me that this is what is thought of about children in care today.  I will admit that not all children respond to their new carers well, however I will also admit that not all carers are adept at caring for a child that has been through so much at such a young age.  I will start at the beginning however and try to restore some faith that the children in care today can be your leaders of tomorrow with the right help.

My response to the question  “was it child abuse to abandon a child on the street”  was not based on personal feeling, I am passionate about the subject and as such have read through as many laws and legislations as I can to understand it.  My response was thus based on the following legislations and laws.  Cruelty to Children Act 1889 and 1904 alongside the Children and Young person’s act 1933 including all up to and including 2014.  As well as these I also based my response on the definition of child abuse from the UN convention paraphrased below.  The UN convention it states  “Key child protection articles in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child are Articles 9 (family separation), 10 (family reunification across borders), 11 (illicit transfer of children), 16(right to privacy, honour and reputation), 19 (protection from violence, injury, abuse, neglect, maltreatment or exploitation), 20 (alternative care), 21 (adoption), 22 (refugee children), 23(disabled children), 24 (harmful practices), 25 (periodic review of alternative care), 32 (economic exploitation), 34 (sexual abuse and exploitation), 35 (abduction, sale or trafficking of children) , 36 (other forms of exploitation), 37 (juvenile justice and protection from torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment), 38 (protection in armed conflict), 39 (recovery and reintegration) and 40 (children in conflict with the law).  This is also available on their website in more detail below” (Unicef, 1992)  

All of the above acts would consider the abandoned child as neglected which causes numerous other forms of maltreatment in the process.  Although I do also see this as a form of neglect and thus child abuse I cannot honestly answer or respond to the question asked in a few lines.  The situation is much more complex.

I have to admit that I was not expecting the response that I received “I was asked who was to blame for this type of abuse and it was also stated that the ones that survived today would be raised in abuse and thus turn out to be tomorrows problem”.   I genuinely worry that this is the standard thought process about children in care today.  Many of these children have been emotionally scarred because of stresses and trauma in early childhood and it takes a particular type of person to take a child in and care for them.  I have known several kinship and foster carers and all have their strengths and they treat the children they care for with respect and understanding.  They work closely with professionals to try and resolve some of the mental issues caused in early childhood.   From all of the children I know or have met, none of them look, to me, as though they will be tomorrows problems.  Actually, it is quite the opposite, I see children being rebuilt, children understanding a lot more than they should and children who will continue to grow stronger as their carers continue to understand and remain dedicated to helping them. 

These children, I believe, will grow up to be team leaders and managers, supervisors and inspirations.  The logic behind this thought is that these children have dealt with stress ten times more dangerous to them than making a snap decision on the shop floor.  These children are the most logical answer to our stagnant economics and failing businesses.  Not only can they deal with stress, but they will remember how all they wanted when they were younger was to be listened to or to be treated fairly or not to be scared.  Given the right care, they can be the person that listens, treats people with dignity and doesn't choose to frighten their staff but rather, motivates them by using loyalty and dedication. 

When asked who is to blame however, this takes deeper thought.  In our time now, I could look to the government starving its population enough for a young girl to abandon her baby because she just does not see a way to make ends meet.  It could be that sex education carried out by schools isn't a big enough deterrent as serious issues like HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases are just briefly touched on because of adult embarrassment of the issues. It could be that the parents didn't follow up on the sex education to highlight the important factors such as STD’s, pregnancy and what motherhood is all about.  It could be culture, the girl may be disowned if she dishonours the family with a child out of marriage.  It could be that the girl is too ashamed of her situation and she just wants it forgotten and no one else to know about it (many girls have been known to go through pregnancy unnoticed, birth the baby and abandon it without anyone knowing).  In these cases we must stand back and look at the girls situation, what made her so desperate in that situation.  Can we blame the people around her, the state, or do we blame her for being scared of the consequences.  I am aware there are girls that abandon their baby for more selfish reasons but these are minimal compared to the girls that are terrified of the consequences from the people around them.  Can we realistically blame the people around her however? 

I feel that there is a lack of education out there about motherhood, responsibility, living with the consequences or even the help they can get if they knew where to look and that’s how we can lessen the amount of abandoned babies, as well as lessen other forms of cruelty and maltreatment such as neglect.  There is a rise in tolerance of various forms of neglect as they are now seen as normal, such as seeing your friend leave her baby in the baby walker all day, this is neglect and can damage limb development but so many youngsters do not know this and think it’s ok.  A good understanding of child development and their own expected life changes is required in schools and at home but it is not forthcoming as we stand and let governments dictate what we can and cannot teach, what we can and cannot learn so in this scenario, we are all to blame, because we do not fight to change things any more.