I can hardly bear to write about this.
In the News: At 20 months of age, a tiny boy was found dead in his cot. Signs of repeated abuse of his little body, resulting in ‘horrific injuries’, had been noted in the months before his death and yet he was not saved.
And, it seems that the blame (blame?!) has landed at the feet of the (child care) social workers. They are workers, for goodness sake. It must be a tremendously difficult job for them to keep tabs on neglected children. Sadly it means paper-work and sometimes foot slog and lots of meetings and so on. Case workers leave their desks at the end of their working day and go home to their families. They are not able to watch over their little ‘clients’ 24 hours of the day. Nor are they tied to the children by their heart strings as a parent or family should be – and in usual circumstances is. Sure, this was shocking neglect on the part of a government department and I quote, from the spokesperson for Child Safety: ‘The failure of the department to protect the most vulnerable (is) a scandal’.
Yes, true, but the bigger scandal is that people seem to be copulating randomly, with little or no thought of consequences and thereby producing children they do not want nor care for.
That each and every child is not cherished by his or her parents is the biggest scandal of all. And a tragedy of immense proportions.
From another state comes a report of a man charged with murdering his girlfriend’s 11 month old baby. The child was not his.
Less than two years ago this young woman had been in a relationship and become pregnant. A baby was born and 11 months later she had re-partnered with a man - who then killed the infant.
All that took about 20 months; not a very long time.
And eleven months is certainly a very short life; possibly a sad and painful one as well. I don’t know the details of that story so I’ll try not to judge too harshly but it seems that some relationships (or are they merely encounters?) don’t last long and are therefore hardly stable enough to sustain a family with babies and children.
Here’s another: The body of a missing twelve-year-old was distressingly found dumped by a river. Murdered. She was a girl who had lived all her life ‘in care’ – brought up by people other than her own parents (or parent, or family). The reason given for this was that her mother was only 18 when she had given birth and therefore too young to care for her. But, that was 12 years ago. The mother would be 30 by now and surely able to care for her daughter. But no; she was presently too occupied with her other children - and a pregnancy.
What are we doing that babies and children are virtually discarded? Are disposable?
And, yet, on the other hand, there are desperate (potential) mothers & fathers who would do anything to become parents. Whole books have been written about the quest for motherhood.
What’s going on?
It’s not only the thought of battered children - or murdered children – that worries me.
Last week a news story told of a house fire (in another state) where five children escaped on their own, as there was no adult present at the time. It was 2 AM when fire crews arrived to put out the fire. The children’s ages ranged from two to 14. They were home alone, in the middle of the night and the house caught fire.
Another house-fire story from the past is almost permanently imprinted in my mind. Again, the mother (this time ‘a single mother of seven’) was filmed for the TV News, surrounded by a gaggle of small children, in front of what was left of her rented house. She was sitting on the remains of the back steps and on her lap was a baby of no more than four or five months of age. The house fire was a tragedy and an appeal had been set up to help provide the family with some basic needs. But, the question in my mind was, where did all these (seven) children come from? Where was the father of (at least) the small baby in the mother’s arms? This woman was very young and possibly able to continue producing children. How would she cope with seven or more kids as they grew and demanded even more of her (and others’) time and resources?
Am I being elitist?
Am I exhibiting intolerance?
A warning…what follows may be deemed out of line, but here goes:
There are ways of preventing pregnancies. This is not the Middle Ages, when babies were caused as much by ignorance as by purposeful coupling.
- Simple methods such as a man using a condom do not need expertise or medical intervention. You can buy them in the local supermarket. Girls and women perhaps should keep a supply.
- A prescription for a contraceptive pill is not difficult to come by.
- There is a hormone implant that prevents conception for three years and costs less than $40.
- And the well known ‘Depo Provera’ hormone injection has an effect of more than three months.
- Then there’s even a ‘morning after’ pill for those who ‘get caught’.
Are any of these too hard to negotiate? Methods to stop the influx of unwanted and uncared for babies – ultimately children, ultimately damaged humans?
Sure, the thought of ‘a baby’ is a comforting experience for some. A baby. Yes, but the baby needs constant attention that isn’t always a happy situation for selfish adults.
The baby turns into a demanding toddler and then into………….and on it goes until it’s not only a battered baby, it’s an abused older child and adult and often an abuser him/herself who knows no other way – and sometimes a person who sadly ends up in prison.
If that sounds tough, then check what the upbringing of many of today’s prisoners was like.