Sunday, May 3, 2009

Baby it's cold why are you in shorts and tee-shirt?

Cannot the heart in the midst of crowds

Feel frightfully alone?

Charles Lamb

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

I'm wondering about common neglect of those too young to take care of even their most basic needs. I'm wondering about where we draw the line and call any such neglect child abuse? Outdoors this morning, it was raining and 45 degrees. Inside the store was cold, too, for some reason. The toddler girl, hunched in the basket seat, visibly shivered in her shorts and tee-shirt. She hugged herself and cried piteously. Her little arms were mottled blue as though she’d been cold a while. Nearby, Daddy read a package, and ignored her.

“Ah, baby is cold, Daddy,” I said, while smiling at the little girl. He didn’t even look at her, just said “Nah, she’s tired. That’s all.”
“Ah, cold and tired baby… not a happy way to be is it sweetie? Well hopefully Daddy will hurry and get you dressed warm and let you sleep soon.”
She looked at me with big tear filled eyes. When I reached the end of the aisle and looked back, Dad was still reading labels. The little girl still looked at me.

I wanted to wrap her in my jacket, hold her close to warm her little body, but knew that would not help the situation and might only cause her trouble for crying and attracting attention to her plight. I could only hope he would finish his shopping soon, put her safely in her car seat, turn the heater on, and once home, dress her appropriately. Hope. So little to offer. So little to do. So sad to know how many millions are faring no better.

Was he a mean, uncaring, blatantly overtly chronically neglectful Daddy? Not necessarily. Possibly, and hopefully, he was just a situationally self-centered neglectfully unaware Daddy. But in either case, an obviously suffering child was being ignored by the one person who could do something for her. Her basic physical and emotional needs were clearly not being met. The fact that she was not howling her distress and demanding his attention is not a good sign. She showed no expectation of help as is frequently the case with neglected children. They learn early that no one listens, no one cares.
The following is from American of my favorite child protection organizations.
“Chronic Neglect
Chronic neglect of children is one of the most persistent and intractable challenges facing the nation’s child welfare system. The term “chronic neglect” refers to an enduring pattern in which a child’s basic physical, developmental and/or socio-emotional needs are repeatedly unmet by the child’s parent or caregiver. Research indicates that chronic neglect is manifested in different ways (e.g., physical, emotional, medical, educational) at different times; that is, children experience various omissions of their basic needs over an extended period of time. Research and day-to-day child welfare practice suggest that traditional short-term or incident-based services are not effective interventions for these families. Moreover, there is limited focus on prevention for the children and caregivers impacted by chronic neglect. Yet children who are repeatedly deprived of fundamental needs can experience serious consequences, including delays in neurobiological development, physical and mental illness, cognitive and educational deficiencies, and socio-emotional and behavioral challenges.”

In the story at this link, neglect is obvious...and yet there are those who will make excuses for it happening, too.

Perhaps making excuses for any of it needs to stop and more training and accountability needs to be expected of those who have children?
A Child is Waiting,
Take aware,
Nancy Lee

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