Friday, April 4, 2008

No Dreams, No Civil Rights: Not for Abused and Neglected Children

Before such things can come,
You idiotic child,
You must alter Human Nature!
And they all sat back and smiled.
Charlotte Prekins Stetson Gilman
from: Similar Cases

Can't help wondering... what you're wondering about?

Today the emphasis of many is on forty years ago.

We celebrate Martin Luther King for what he did for the civil rights of all. Well, almost all... children then had no civil rights. Not much has changed for them since then.

Although the UN initiated the Convention for Children's Rights in 1989, the United States remains the only country that hasn't ratified it.

Corporal punishment remains legal in all states for parents and legal in many schools. You can't hit an adult with the intention of inflicting pain, but it's still legal to hit a child with the intention of inflicting pain. Some things are very slow to change.

Forty years ago, as now, abused and neglected children dared not dream of a brighter day, a better world, a change that would someday set them free. The most they dared hope for was survival, escape, and a future not so altered by their experiences that life remained livable. Abused and neglected children lived in a world of the unseen, and the unacknowledged. Child abuse wasn't even considered a problem until after Dr. C. Henry Kempe and his colleagues published the work, "The Battered Child Syndrome," in 1962.

Even today, the majority of people still admit behind their own closed doors, they prefer those children remain that way. Hidden away and easy to ignore... not heard, and not seen either. Oh, they feel sorry for them... only children after all. Not their faults for having parents that don't teach them right from wrong. Those people are more than willing to attend balls, rally's ball games, walk-a-thons, donate money, do anything as long as they aren't expected to actually go anywhere near the children themselves.

Honest people admit abused and neglected children aren't always the easiest children to care about, let alone be around. Once out of the shadows, sometime after they become ambulatory, too many abused and neglected children are seen as dirty, smelly, and ragged. They lack vocabulary, manners and other socially admired characteristics. Instead, out of the mouths of these babes, filth and violence spew along with spittle directed at the least suspecting. Their escalating levels of rage and increasingly uncontrolled behaviors give fair warning... don't mess with me.

Abused and neglected children may lie, steal, cheat, bully and cause unimaginable trouble for friend and foe alike. Do something nice to one such child and he will take that as a sign of weakness asking to be taken advantage of. Reach out with love to another such child and she will accuse you of evil intentions, or worse. Why not? For many of these children everyone represents a threat, the new is always dangerous, the unknown something to be avoided at all costs.

While children died in the name of the civil rights movement so that others would be free, few remembered the children screaming and dying behind closed doors. Forty years later people exclaim about the numbers of people in prison... more in the US than any other country. How many people know that 100% of the most violent of prisoners have records as abused and neglected children? How many know that California looks at the failing 4th graders to estimate the number of new prison cells that will be needed in twenty years?

How many are willing to look at the connection between the abused and neglected children of 40 years ago, who became the parents, increasingly unmarried, of the young unmarried adults twenty years ago, now giving birth at higher rates than ever to more children being abused and neglected? How many think nineteen year olds with three illegitimate children, with different fathers are likely to break the cycle from which they come. How many think the missing fathers will? So who will help the children?

Some people step up, eager to be the ones to make the changes. When others say it can't be done, the children once innocent are lost and gone, still others can be heard to say...not true! Our children are worth whatever it takes...

Said I, in scorn all burning hot,
In rage and anger high,
"You ignominious idiot!
Those wings are made to fly!"
Charlotte Perkins Stetson-Gilman
From: A Conservative

While, in the back ground a chorus of voices rise, from those lost children who do not understand, those for whom hope and dreams are long since gone...those who have never known anything but abuse and neglect:

"I do not want to be a fly!

I want to be a worm!"

Charlotte Perkins Stetson-Gilman

From: A Conservative

Change will be slow, with so many who do not yet know which way to go. All the more reason to begin with even just a small step today. Got your Blue Ribbon, yet?

Some Information:

The Kempe Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse and Neglect

Get Your Blue On for Kempe Kids

Kempe Center: History of the Child Abuse Blue Ribbon Campaign
Kempe Center: Education and Awareness Help Us All

A Child is Waiting,
Take aware,
Nancy Lee

No comments: