Remember the animal welfare slogan, ‘A puppy is not just for Christmas’ – or more accurately, ‘A dog is for life, not just for Christmas’? Well, I wish a similar slogan could be drummed home to people everywhere, but referring to babies in place of dogs. (And forget the Christmas reference).
A baby is NOT just a baby. They are a responsibility that you must love and care for and work for and cherish for as long as you live.
Two reports lately – from two different states – are concentrating on child welfare. And, yes, I know that I have written about this before, including just recently. But I can’t help thinking that most of these horrendous chid welfare problems could be remedied – prevented, really - if people took more thought to the random ‘mating’ that results in unplanned babies being born. Babies whose existence has not been thought through; their progression into children and PEOPLE has not been considered.
The story I told in the previous blog about a tiny child being beaten and abused over months, resulting in his death, is not an isolated case. It has happened before and, as in this case, the welfare workers and government departments are the people who ultimately receive the ‘blame’. Why? No, don’t answer. Of course we accept that, if it is someone’s job to care for the welfare of children and they neglect to do so, then blame should be apportioned. But…but…they (the workers) didn’t choose to produce this child, nor abuse him. Comment in a newspaper: “What good is any government that is unable to protect its most vulnerable citizens?” (Des Houghton, Courier Mail, 10/7).
Surely interest should also be more on how did these neglected little people come to be?
This week, in another news report (from a different state), the emphasis is on parents who have had a child or children taken from them because of abuse. The gist of this story is that these (mostly extremely) neglectful parents all want their children back. In the report, it was stressed that there was a need for parents to have and nurture their own children, with the negative effect of foster care being a defining point. But….if the parents had nurtured their children in the first place, I hardly think they would have been ‘taken from them’. I am left scratching my head! There are some who now blame foster care for damaging children, asking, ‘are they really better off away from their families?’ (SMH, 23/7) Well, I’d say, yes, if it saves them from abuse and even murder.
Here are some sobering facts:
(From the Australian Institute of Family Studies): In the 2014-15 financial year there were 445 child deaths registered in Queensland (QFCC, 2015). Suicide was the leading external cause of death for children and young people (28 deaths) in 2014-15. Drowning was the cause of death for 16 children and fatal assault and neglect was the reason for 14 child deaths. The high number of deaths attributed to fatal assault or neglect in 2014-15 was in part due to one incident that involved multiple fatalities. Nine children were victims of domestic homicide, four children died as a result of fatal abuse and neonaticide was the cause of death for one child.
A New South Wales Ombudsman report stated that, in NSW,
83 children were killed in circumstances of familial abuse over the ten years to 2013.
Monash University's Filicide Research Project estimates that between 25 to 27 children are the victims of filicide across the country each year.
(Filicide: ‘the killing of one's son or daughter’)
Possibly children have been killed by their parents all throughout history. But there seems to be an inordinately high amount of this sort of tragedy happening in our now supposedly enlightened and well-educated times.
Many years ago, the threat of a ‘shot-gun’ wedding seemed to be enough to deter many young people from embarking on actions leading to an unwanted pregnancy. Then, after the ‘Swinging Sixties’ when ‘free love’ abounded, mostly owing to the availability of contraception, cohabiting and ‘free’ sex became the norm.
But, somewhere along the way, people seemed to forget the ways of safe (baby free) coupling and relaxed their watch. As babies born ‘out of wedlock’ were no longer considered to be bastards and mothers were not ostracised for producing babies ‘at random’, along came thoughtless baby-producing.
Even the government stepped in and gave money to help these parents – often only the mother. This appeared to almost encourage (thoughtless) reproduction. But what of the babies?
I hesitate to suggest that schools take on yet another responsibility, but maybe there should be lessons – not on how to care for baby but on what a baby means. Maybe, just maybe, kids should be told about life with a baby. Let them know about babies who wee and poo and vomit and scream and do not sleep and forever stop you from having time for yourself and so on. That babies need to be washed and looked after in a million different ways. And that need is constant. They must be fed properly and clothed and provided for – at the expense of your wants and needs.
Here’s a message for kids and irresponsible adults to heed: Most importantly of all, your baby MUST be loved, cherished, feel wanted and carefully cared for 24 hours of every day. So think carefully before you take the risk of pregnancy. A baby is for life.