Wednesday, April 25, 2012

What is Neglect and What is Abuse?

by Dick Mac 

It can be hard to get information from children when they are young, even when they need help.

Before kids can explain things succinctly, we put a good deal of faith in the idea that their care-givers (teachers, etc.) will protect them.  These professional are paid to protect our kids, after all.

People who hurt children are particularly despicable people.  Whether they hit, rape, or belittle a child, an adult like this is to be despised.

Sure, I'll accept the notion that "they do this because they were victimized themselves."  I believe that is true - it is part of the insidiousness of child abuse:  that it is self-perpetuating.  More often than not, an adult who hurts a child had been hurt the same way by an adult when they were children.

That is an explanation, not an excuse.

Some people who are abused as children make a conscious decision to avoid hurting children they way they themselves were hurt.  That is something that an adult survivor of child abuse must choose.

When I hear about children being physically and sexually abused, I am disturbed.  It is disturbing.  I tend to detach from it because I get rather emotional:  angry and sad.  I avoid most news outlets, including all television news outlets, because of the sensationalism they attach to child abuse, and their penchant for highlighting those stories, seeking them out, fabricating them, and profiteering from the pain of children.

Many adults have been wrongly accused of hurting children and had their lives, careers, and families torn asunder.  This happens.  I know a person to whom it happened:  wrongly accused of hurting a child, and when discovered to have been innocent, receiving no public exoneration, just left alone in the shambles of his former life.

So, the issue is explosive and difficult.

A recent news story caught my eye.  I generally turn away from a story like this, because I am so moved by them that I become, as I said earlier, angry and sad.  Lately, however, I have been in an ongoing discussion with a dear friend about the problems of families, parents and children, life and death.  So, I have been attuned to the issue of children and childhood.

I encountered this headline:  Stuart Chaifetz Secretly Tapes His Autistic Son at School, Discovers He's Being Bullied by Teachers.

Autistic children and their parents often have major obstacles when communicating, and the parent of an autistic child must rely on caregivers who can be trusted.

I am wary of news articles that print the names of adults who are accused of hurting children.  Sometimes an incorrect conclusion is being drawn from "facts" that have been shared among people.

This story includes actual recordings of the ongoing abuse of an autistic child by his school teachers:  "he was being mocked, mistreated and humiliated . . ." according to his father's web site No More Teacher/Bullies.

Perhaps these teachers are innocent; but I think not.  As a result of the incident, one teacher's aide was fired. Another aide and the teacher were reassigned but not fired.  If the recordings this man is presenting are bona fide, and there is no reason to think (or even suspect) otherwise, none of these people should be allowed near children and should be prosecuted for child abuse, or at least neglect.

Fortunately, I know these three people will have to live with this forever and when they look in mirrors, they will see the faces of people who failed to help a helpless child.

No comments: