In our line of work, the hardest stories to report are those that involve some sort of child abuse.
Whether it’s physical abuse that results in injury or death, sexual or emotional abuse that leaves psychic scars that can take a lifetime -- if ever -- to heal, or neglect that can stunt both physical growth and personal development, it horrifies us to the point where anger threatens to spill over.
But it also fills us with sadness that the most innocent of creatures, the most vulnerable of our species, are taken advantage of and hurt by those whose duty it should be to protect them and shepherd them in this world.
What is lacking in their lives that makes them respond so horribly to a child who hasn’t yet mastered self-control, logic and an understanding of the consequences of his or her actions?
We, as adults, must practice patience with the little ones, we must forgive them their guileless transgressions and we must be there to reach out to them as they stumble along the path to adulthood.
Most importantly, we must teach them by example.
If we lash out at them in anger because they don’t behave as we believe they should, if they take too much time to do something or if they demand attention when we would rather be doing something else, what does that teach them? It’s surely not a lesson that teaches them how to be a productive member of society.
If we break their bones,
But we not only have to diligently care for the wards who are under our wings, we have to be aware of the children around us and how they are treated by others. We all know the difference between necessary discipline and inexcusable punishment and if we turn our backs on a child who is in need of protection we are complicit in its abuse. It’s as simple as that.
We have to be brave and speak out when we see a child mistreated, whether it’s at home, in a grocery store or on the streets. Put down your foot, raise your voice, pick up a phone or get between a fist and a child.
To do so can be uncomfortable, and there is a chance you might get hurt, but don’t stand idle while injury is being inflicted upon the youngest among us. Don’t look the other way and say it’s none of your business. Don’t hope it will stop without intervention.
Protect the children and their innocence. That’s the most important job of an adult.