Friday, September 24, 2010

Suffer Little Children

I don’t know how this post is going to go over with you guys, but it’s a subject close to my heart. Child abuse. If you're of a very sensitive nature or you can't face reading something that will get you down, don't read on, but if you can manage to read this, know that if you can do one of two things I ask at the end, or even both, together we may just make a difference.

I’ve always rattled on about it throughout the years, and in one of my other pen names, all my books have a child abuse theme, showing readers what abused children could become if that child is so conditioned they don’t know what they have suffered in their youth is wrong.

My oldest daughter has picked up on my compassion for abused children, having heard my thoughts over time, and chose to go to college then university to study to be a social worker. Throughout her studies, she has done several work placements in several places, ranging from kindergarten/toddler groups to looking after the elderly in care homes.

Now, she’s on the in-your-face stretch of her studies and has been placed, as a social worker, complete with nametag and photo that proclaims her as such—my God, I am so proud of her!—helping children who live with the most horrendous situations and who, quite clearly, see their lives as “normal”. The parents see what they are doing as “normal”. She can’t mention any names or addresses when telling me anything, but yesterday, she visited and had to offload what she had seen and the emotions she had experienced so far this week. Let me tell you, I have no idea how she holds it all together and doesn’t cry for the children and get angry at the parents. She wants to, believe me, but she’s been trained to act professionally and not allow her emotions to get involved.

Hard when she has to read case files on abused children with the view to creating a “help plan” for the parents to follow, knowing what these children suffer through every day. One house is so filthy the floor is littered with cigarette butts thrown down and ground out by the mother. Brown banana skins, take-away boxes, crisp/chip packets, you name it, also covers the floor. And those children sat on that floor eating their lunch from bowls—just bread by the way—as though what they were doing was quite all right. Their feet were literally black with dirt, the filth coming up the sides of the feet from the soles. The children aren’t spoken to. They don't speak much. They have no idea how to interact with other people. For the most part, they are either silent or spend their time running, continually, from one end of the room to the other. They had bare mattresses on the floor for beds. The children are 4 and 2.

My daughter wanted to take those children out of the home and place them somewhere else, but she is bound by laws and red tape that prevent her from doing so. She has a young child of her own, so naturally she is devastated, knowing how important it is to nurture your children and raise them into stable, well-loved adults. The British system goes by this main rule: So long as there is no hardcore abuse, the children must remain with the parent to maintain the mother/child bond.

Ponder this: If there is no bond, if the mother doesn’t speak to these children, doesn’t play with them, basically feeds them as though they were just a hamster in a cage and nothing more than a blight on her existence, why are they still with her? Why did she have them? Can she be "taught" to care for them properly? To give them a clean and safe environment?

Evidently not. A team of workers cleaned the woman’s house from top to bottom. Just from the living room alone, they filled 4 large refuse sacks with debris from the floor. They bought the children new beds, some other new furniture for the rest of the house, and left the house sparkling and bright. While the team worked, two police officers gave their time to play with the children in the garden all day. They didn’t know how to play. They just stood there staring. Heartbreaking.

Three days later, the team went back to check the mother hadn’t sold the new furniture. And found the house just as filthy as before. The children just as filthy. Yet the mother/child bond must be maintained, and those children will not see a brighter future with adoptive/foster parents who adore them unless the mother harms them or they suffer sexual abuse—and even then, the mother/child bond is so “important” that the team will persevere in keeping the family unit together and only step in to take the children if the abuse escalates to horrific.

I think them living in those conditions is already horrific, let alone leaving them there until their abuse reaches the top of the scale before anything is done.

I don't know about you, but knowing I'm sitting here, happy, well-balanced, well-fed, my children safe and adored, a clean home, while children like the ones above are sitting in filth and don't even know what love is, what it feels like to be hugged every day and kissed on the cheek, makes me want to cry and DO something, you know? How can I sit here without at least trying to ease their pain?

My daughter has been subjected to filthy looks when parents she visits catch sight of her social worker tag. Like she's scum for wanting to help. She remains happy and upbeat, offering suggestions and help to these people, while inside her heart is breaking and she’s fighting off tears. She's determined to make a difference. What a woman. What an absolutely adorable woman to go out there and do the work I quite simply can’t. Because I wouldn’t be able to hold back the emotion. Just by her telling me about these children, among many others she’s been working with, I cried. I’m crying now while typing this. Those who work in this field have my complete admiration. It’s a damn tough job, sometimes thankless, and emotionally difficult.

I ask “Why?” a lot. What the hell is wrong with us that our governments create a structure that must be followed, allowing human beings to be subjected to a life of hell because they feel, if the mother/child bond is broken, it’s more traumatic for the children than the actual abuse? WTF? I know these kids don’t know anything different. I know what they are experiencing, to them, is “normal”, but for God’s sake, it isn’t, and them being left in homes like this absolutely kills me.

I had to get this off my chest and share with you the hidden secrets in our societies that we have no clue about until a child dies and a community cries out in uproar because the children weren’t removed from the home sooner. I knew things like this went on, but I didn’t realise how prevalent it is until yesterday. You would not believe the amount of people who act this way, right there in your village, town, or city. You would be shocked to know just how bad human beings are and can be, right on your doorstep.

The case above is the mildest she told me about.

If you have enough money to send even a pound/dollar to a charity for abused children, would you please do it today? That money helps to pay for day trips, food, clothing, whatever the children need. If everyone donated a pound or dollar, think how much that would add up to, how much joy and comfort the things bought with that money could give children all over the world who are suffering at the hands of those who are supposed to love them the most.

If you can’t afford to do this, then maybe send up a prayer for these kids. If collective prayer really works, then if we all do it, surely we can make a difference.


N.J.Walters said...

Your daughter is an amazing woman to be able to handle those kinds of heartbreaking situations on a daily basis.

What the government doesn't seem to realize is that these kids don't have a mother/child bond and by leaving them in such abusive/neglectful homes they'll never have the opportunity to forge such a bond. So sad.

Tess MacKall said...

It takes a very special kind of person to handle this job, Nat. And I know your sweet baby girl is so incredibly special. And I predict that one day she'll come to you gushing with news that she honestly has made a difference somewhere. And it will spur her onward.

I sponsor a family every year for Christmas with our local Dept of Social Services branch. I've been doing that for eleven years now. I have to budget for it through the year because it's not cheap to feed Christmas dinner to a family of four to six and make sure the children have several gifts each as well as the parents at least one.

I never know who the family is, never know if I'm just possibly giving to a situation like the one you describe in which the parent/s are just not trying. I try not to think about that and focus only on the children involved.

Last year, my oldest pitched in with a few dollars and this year my middle child has said she will contribute as well. AND, wonders never brother has promised a hundred bucks. And that's saying something---he's an old Scrooge for sure. lol

And we discovered a friend of my brothers, who has, oddly enough-- because it's totally out of character for him--who has been playing Santa Claus for a group of children in a troubled youth group home for the past four years. He collects gifts from individuals and puts on his Santa suit and takes those gifts--along with ones he's purchased as well--and delivers them on Christmas Eve. So we are all contributing to that as well.

This may be seen as an over simplification of it all, but sometimes it's just a matter of focusing not on how wrong another's action is, but how right your reaction will be.

Anny Cook said...

Occasionally it's ignorance. More often it's drugs or alcohol. Mostly, it adds up to indifference which is worse in it's way than active physical abuse--simply because there's no sense of urgency to intervene. That's what the general public is missing--urgency.

Natalie Dae said...

I know, NJ. It's all so hard to understand, when all I want to do is just scream at these people to wake up and see what they're doing to their kids, and also to those who created the mother/child bond thing to look beyond that and take the kids away if the bond just isn't there.

Natalie Dae said...

Tess, I just bloody knew you were the type of person to do what you do for families like this. I've always said you're an angel, placed here to do good for others. You're like my daughter. One of the most special people on earth.

Natalie Dae said...

Yes, Anny. If the public knew what went on, more would step up to help. It's like it's all shrouded, kept hidden, and I have no idea why when there are so many beautiful people out there only too willing to help.

Unknown said...

You have an amazing daughter, Natalie, with a kind heart. It such a sad society that would allow children to remain in homes like this. So terribly sad.

Regina Carlysle said...

There are truly special "angels' in this world who do this work and God Bless Them. This kind of abuse seems to move from one generation to the next, doesn't it. Perhaps these parents lived this way too and think it's okay. But that can't be right. They have eyes in their heads and can see others don't live this way. They see loving moms and dads hugging their kids and keeping them clean and fed. There really IS no excuse. And the heartbreaking thing is these children will maybe have kids of their own one day. It just goes on, doesn't it? This is beyond sad and infinitely heartbreaking.

C. Zampa said...

In our country as well, the authorities make such an effort to keep that 'mother/child' bond intact that. But often that tie is really no bond at all, but a shackle that keeps a child bound to abuse.

Sometimes, sadly, the mother and/or father is just not fit, and the children should be spared the life void of love and care.

Thanks for sharing this.

Natalie Dae said...

Hi Amber. Yes, if I think about our society too much, how these kids live, I get myself into a state. It's just damn awful, you know? They don't deserve the lives they've got. Poor little mites.

Natalie Dae said...

Reg, I agree that they must see how other people live and know this isn't right. I realise there are issues and whatnot, that they need help to bring up their kids, but when they're being given help and don't seem to want to DO something to change how they are, it just makes me so angry and sad.

Natalie Dae said...

Yes, CZ. It's clear sometimes that the bond isn't there, so them spouting the mother/child bond rule is a load of crap. Basically, it all comes down to funding. Lack of money that means leaving children in places they really shouldn't be in.

Anonymous said...

Bless your daughter.

I have eleven children and love each and everyone of them: I considered it my full time job to care for those kids and I have lots of happy memories of their childhood and all the fun we had together.

I can't imagine a woman having a child and not taking care of it! But sadly it happens. If I had to go and do a job like your daughter, I would want to take all the kids home and give them what they need....sigh!!!!


in Germany

Natalie Dae said...

Hey Val!

Yes, I'd be the same, which is why I never went into that profession. I'd be a wreck every day and get into trouble for kidnapping the kids and taking them to my house. LOL!

Bronwyn Green said...

Your daughter is amazing, Natalie. Please let her know that her work is appreciated and valued.

Madison Scott said...

Wow. You're daughter is doing something really special. I'm not sure I could emotionally handle it. She sounds like an amazing woman.

Anne Rainey said...

Natalie--I have a terrible time with the subject of abuse and neglect. I just want to say that your daughter is my hero. Absolutely 100% my hero. Thank you for raising such a lovely young lady.

As to charities for children. We give to a children's charity every month. Our church turned us onto it. And we've helped feed the needy through our church, as well. There are some wonderful organizations out there. It only takes a little bit of effort to make a HUGE difference.