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Abuse and neglect result in too many suffering children

The statistics are so staggering on abused and neglected children suffering throughout the world today that it is almost incomprehensible. With all the scientific advances in this modern era, defenceless children are dying by the thousands each day in the shadows of gross abuse and neglect.

According to experts who make a study of the plight of children worldwide, some 40 million children below the age of 15 suffer abuse and neglect each year, and one can only imagine the effect that this will have on future generations.

This subject is painful to write about, but even worse, it seldom gets the attention it should because children have no voice of their own amid the power struggles by nations with opposing ideologies.

Recent publicity of children suffering and dying in war-torn areas is bad enough, with gruesome photographs of stunned and bleeding infants in bombed-out buildings.

While some of these terrible incidents are flashed across television screens around the world, there are countless children who die from abuse and neglect, with their short stories buried with them. The age-old cry of why continues, but world leaders seem to appear more concerned about power status rather than dealing with the abuse and neglect of children in so many countries.

A troubling aspect to this is that studies reveal that emotional abuse may be more devastating than physical abuse. When the mind of a child is shattered through various forms of abuse and neglect, that child could grow to view the world as the enemy, and than the cycle of anger and bitterness, if not addressed in time, could create challenges for any society.

Another startling factor is that although there are countless distractions that could cause derailment of a developing young mind, most of the antisocial behavioural problems can be traced back to the home.

No matter what difficulties families face under challenging economic circumstances, no child should be subjected to abuse or neglect as an excuse for trying to maintain a roof or put bread on the table. There are situations internationally where the conduct of parents who are supposed to be the protector of children behave as though they themselves need parenting.

The shocking image recently of a couple in the United States sitting in their vehicle unconscious from a drug overdose, as their child sat in the back seat stunned even hardened police officers. One police official said: “We are dealing with this type of thing almost every day.”

It is not so much what we know about abuse and neglect, it is what we don't know that could be even more shocking.

Our cultural alarm bells should be ringing off the hook when, in launching its annual “Taking Action Against Neglect” campaign, the Department for Child and Family Services noted that there has been a disturbing rise in reports of incidents in this area of community life. Some children have fallen victim to illegal drugs; in some cases, before they were born. In many large countries, doctors have had to struggle to save babies born with addictive drugs in their systems. Drinking and smoking around children have also taken a heavy toll.

An unpleasant subject, yes, but unless it is addressed in a serious manner by the entire community, there will be more victims yet to come. The crumbling of the strength of the family, which is not a good trend, must be halted if there is to be a rebuilding of badly needed values to avoid the community itself becoming a victim.

Finding a solution will be far from easy in a fast-paced society where the thrust is so focused on material and status gain by so many as the true symbol of success. Nothing wrong with success in those areas, as long as young minds are not sacrificed along the way. A hard-working parent who keeps a sharp eye on offspring developments, even if it means sacrificing financial gain at times, will be making a great contribution to any society.

Bermuda is truly a beautiful island in the Atlantic, but we would be doing a disservice to the next generation if we choose to bury our heads in the pink sand rather than face up to the problem of abuse and child neglect. Children are the most precious gifts we have for trying to build a better future because one day they, too, will be parents. When that happens, we hope they will be armed with the right values.

No stone should be left unturned in ensuring that they have those values to pass on to the future generations.

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Published September 23, 2016 at 9:00 am (Updated September 23, 2016 at 12:18 am)

Abuse and neglect result in too many suffering children

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