A little child, just four years old, was injured to an extent that led to her death. No, she was not in a traffic accident, nor was she involved in an incident labelled as an accident. Truth is, she was put on a 50kg motorbike and made to ride it around and around a yard, crashing into objects, while her (drug addled) mother and boyfriend filmed the action.
The video is available via internet for all to see, where the mother’s boyfriend forces the tiny child repeatedly on to the motor bike. You can hear the adults laughing in the background.
An inquest into the child’s death is currently taking place.
Four-year-old Chloe died in January 2012 and her mother and mother’s former partner have been jailed for manslaughter.
Why were these cruel and totally irresponsible people doing this - apart from the fact that the mother – and most probably her boyfriend at the time – were ‘on drugs’?
It was not the first time little Chloe had suffered at her mother’s hands, but this was the last time she sustained injuries that were far, far worse than the neglect that the little girl had endured throughout her short life.
The blame is now being sheeted towards the authorities who had received more than 20 notifications about Chloe’s mistreatment over the years.
But, I also place some blame on the television show, ‘Funniest Home Videos’.
Remember, decades ago, when the Funniest Home Video show was a family favourite, showing genuinely funny and often quite sweet and cute snippets from real life activities that gave a joyful laugh to viewers?
When did that change? Who was responsible? Was it new attitudes by the people who trawl through the offered videos to choose ones they think would appeal to viewers? And, when did viewers’ tastes change from that of happily watching mostly cute animals and children doing funny things to the later obscene, cruel – and often staged – performances?
I remember a winning video that showed a little toddler, calling to her Daddy to come and see the snake (she pronounced it ‘nake’). The father followed the tiny child with his video camera rolling, only to find the little girl pointing to a small furry caterpillar on the path, “nake, nake!” That was worth a big smile and a warm laugh at the time – and a large prize.
But shortly after, it seemed that the videos began descending more into scenes of elderly people falling, some revealing a ‘wedgie’ with their knickers - and men crashing into and out of trees or buildings, while mates laughed. And children being hurt in 'accidents' - sometimes real, sometimes staged......and, worst and un-funniest of all were all the ‘grabs’ of males being hit in the genital area, whether by children’s cricket bats, piñata sticks or anything else, often including kids and animals.
So I stopped watching the show.
Then one year I decided to watch the advertised final program, just to check out the winning video to see if there had been something really funny and worthy of a big prize.
What a shock I received to see that the winning video was that of a very small boy of about 3 years of age, at the beach, filling the front of his swimming togs with wet sand and turning around to the guffaws of many adults. The vision was appalling; it was obscenely suggestive and yet the audience howled with laughter and cheered as the prize was announced.
It seems as if I’m getting sidetracked from the original subject of this blog, that of the plight of poor little Chloe, but it all boils down to my original comment concerning the ‘Funniest Home Video Show’ and its effect on people’s idea of what is funny.
I have no doubt that the television show was the reason that little Chloe was subjected to the appalling treatment that led to her death. Sure, she had been mistreated throughout her entire short life and the reasons for that are many; maybe the fact that her mother was only a teenager when she gave birth or perhaps it was mainly to do with drug taking. Who will ever know?
All we know is that Chloe died as a result of injuries sustained while being forced to ride a motorbike that weighed many times more than she did and I suspect the aim of this incredible cruelty was to win a big prize from the ‘Funniest Home Video Show’.
You can read about Chloe Valentine on the internet if you can bear to.
Here's a story from the past!
As a ten-year-old entering Grade Six I was pleased to find that I was to have a teacher, Mrs Waters, who had been my class teacher two years before and I was also pleased to find that she planned to continue sharing her obsession with the Greek Heroes and their wonderful adventure stories.
To add to the Greek Heroes stories, we briefly studied Ancient Greek history as an addition to our mainly British history lessons.
(No Australian History was even mentioned way back then).
Mrs Waters showed us pictures of the Greek gods and found pages containing artwork – mainly photographs of sculptures of the beautiful bodies of these mythical (mostly) men. One day she asked me, and another two girls, during lunch recess, to make a display of these pictures on the pin board at the back of the room. Mrs Waters supplied us with a mountain of black and white photographs of statues, figurines, carvings, fountains and other ornamental works. As we pinned them to the wall, we noticed that all the pictures showing manly sculptures had been carefully truncated at hip level. There were no legs and feet to be seen. Of course, we soon realised that it was more than legs and feet that were missing from these figures and we had a giggle at the thought of Mrs Waters slicing off the particular bits for fear of offending (or educating) our little minds.
But the giggling became uncontrollable when one of the girls went to throw some rubbish in the bin and discovered the missing photo parts showing all the amputated statue pieces. Here we had a pile of sculptured marble feet, legs –and genitals. Once outside, we divided them up to show and to share with the other girls.
We shrieked with laughter as we imagined Mrs Waters studiously chopping off the ‘rude’ bits.
Be warned: this is all about me (& numbers)…..
After spending many days editing my memoir(yet again!),I clicked on Tools to check the word count, only to find that I had edited my work down (again!) to below 70,000 words, which is the word count I am (or was) aiming at – not for any particular reason (the 70,000 word idea) but it just seemed right. Now I am looking at 66,601 words.
In an attempt to make it more readable and therefore more acceptable to both a literary agent and the reading public, I have neatened and truncated it perhaps a little too much.
I Googled ‘average word count for a memoir’ and found a site written by Australian Literary Agent, Virginia Lloyd, suggesting that a LONG memoir would be around the 100,000 word mark and a very short one only 25,000. She (Virginia) then directed readers to a blog on the subject written by ex-literary agent Colleen Lindsay that stated 100,000 was an accepted amount of words for a memoir.
Geeez! I am now just as confused as I was before and wondering if I have really edited too tightly, and whether I should retrieve some of the ‘stuff’ I rejected, OR find another 30,000 words or so to make my offering (as I said) more suitable and therefore more readable.
But, then I think, why am I even concerned? This book of mine will never be published, so who cares what the word count is?
Today is another day and I have renewed hope that one day my memoir will be published, so here I am, again, ‘nose to the grindstone’, writing away. Of course, next thing I’ll have to do is edit the new stuff I have just written and we know what happens then. (sigh!)
Lest We Forget ... Cambodia
So much is being written lately about the (Centenary) anniversary of the Gallipoli landing horrors in World War 1, and there is a renewed interest in the subject of the (W.W.2) murderous activities in Auschwitz……….but I have today been reminded of other horrors of war.
My husband and son are presently touring Vietnam and this morning they posted a picture from the Cambodian ‘Killing Fields’ where they visited yesterday.
It presented a heartrending reminder of the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge days, when people were killed (murdered) by the thousands, for the simple reason that they weren’t ‘them’.
Sound familiar? That was what went on in the two ‘Great Wars’ and is still happening now in various pockets of our world today.
What happened in Cambodia happened not so long ago and now the scene of such horrors is a tourist - not attraction - but a place to visit to be reminded of what happened.
People comment on this (not) attraction. Most are moved almost beyond words, others miss the point and complain about the Cambodian people ‘benefitting’ from the place….with comments about the cost of a tuk tuk ride or the (minimal) cost of an entry fee (around $5, for heaven’s sake!)
But most people appreciate the chance to go there:
“Choeung Ek is as necessary to visit as Auschwitz in Poland.
“One of the best and most difficult ways to learn about this sad period in Cambodian history is by visiting the killing fields”
Sure, Choeung Ek may not be everyone’s ‘cup-of-tea’, but, by golly, it is a very chilling reminder of what can happen on our watch.
The bracelets on the tree (and on surrounding poles) are a fairly recent addition and are ‘peace’ bracelets left by visitors to help remember what went on.
By the way, the tree in the picture was used to bash in the heads of babies ad children.
Lest we forget.
Another of life’s lessons
Here’s an example of another lesson learned from experience:
As a school teacher I spent some years teaching in the same school. As any teacher will tell you, once you are an established and well known member of staff, the students know you and have their assessment of you well planted, so to speak. So, throughout that particular 12 years I received respect and was (I assumed) well liked by the students. There were no discipline problems where I was concerned. I kept up a friendly but firm relationship with the children and they knew what I would and would not accept as far as behaviours went. It was a happy time.
But, then I left that school - and teaching - and became semi-retired.
Eventually, because I missed teaching and, admittedly, also missed the income, I took on some ‘relief’ work, that meant I was on-call to go to my pervious school and one or two others in the district.
It was a shock to me to be back in the ‘old school’ but with pupils I did not know and who did not know me.
I assumed my standing with them would be the same as it had been in days gone by and that I would be welcomed warmly and would assume my original role as a teacher whose attitudes and approach to all manner of school work and activities remained ‘set in concrete’ and understood.
Alas, it was not so.
On that first day as a relief teacher I was confronted with a classroom of Grade Five pupils who were not at all pleased that their regular teacher was having a day off and they had been assigned a woman whom they did not know and (apparently) did not like the look of!
My first day back at the old stamping ground and, I don’t know, did I look severe in my nervousness?
When it was clear that I was quite unfamiliar with their set classroom routine, there were mutterings of discontent.
I retaliated by trying to be assertive and to ‘show them who was boss’. This was a bad move.
The atmosphere in the classroom became tense and the more the students and I faced off each other the more the feeling between us became toxic!
Fortunately I resisted the urge to ‘get on my high horse’ and state boldly that I was not prepared to tolerate bad behaviour and that they were to do as I said no matter what - or there’d ‘be trouble’.
I did not entirely turn into a dragon.
There was only one thing I could do and that was to change tack altogether and introduce completely different tasks for us – as pupils and teacher together - to work on.
I invented a couple of competitions, using simple word and maths games and during lunch break I chatted with some of the kids in as friendly a manner as I could muster.
Gradually, even though the initial damage could not be repaired, the day finished with a not completely disastrous relationship between me, the teacher, and the students. The set work had not all been accomplished but we had learnt some interesting things, had enjoyed a general knowledge quiz and, best of all, I had learnt to enter a new and untried classroom with a more friendly and open attitude.
Lesson: A friendly smile and a warm laugh can go a long way!
A frown and a look of superiority is a sure-fire way towards conflict and unhappiness.
You live and learn.
I choose to comment on social issues and write creatively on a variety of subjects - for a variety of audiences.