Child Abuse - the Worst Kind of Bullying and the Most Sickening
I am sitting in my room after watching the news and seeing the most disgusting and heart-wrenching piece of news that I have ever seen. Vanessa George and two others, who worked for nurseries and met via Facebook, have now admitted sexually abusing children and doing so for some time. She would take pictures of her victims whilst she abused them and would send them to other people. Despite admitting these heinous acts, she refuses to name the others that she abused, denying the parents closure on this shocking affair. This article may not be the most coherent, but that is not something that I care about; I care about the children whose lives have been destroyed for the sick pleasure of someone who people entrusted with the care of their children. What is scary about this story is that people keep saying how normal she was and how Ms. George was a "well-liked member of the community." This shows that this crime can affect almost any community at any time. This is why one can never stop in this area and sit back--because for every hard-fought victory, there are those silent victims without a voice who have slipped through the cracks and remain without a voice.
The main reason that I feel very strongly about this area is that children are innocents, blank slates ready to be molded, nurtured, loved so that they can be who they were meant to be and fulfil their God-given potential. Child abuse and those who perpetrate it rob them of this and disappear into the social ether, whilst their victims have to deal with the shame, the guilt and the anger, using addictions to numb the pain of their experiences - experiences that they were never meant to know. The fear of recrimination keeps the victims silent and their abusers escape justice. Even when the victims, through counselling and guidance, manage to confront their issues and those that carried out these crimes, justice can be slow and often non-existent. It is only very recently that I have noticed a trend where the abuser is actually getting jail time. This is usually between 2-5 years, woefully inadequate and ineffective as a deterrent.
"The worst kind of bullying" may seem like an extreme statement to make especially in view of all the bullying articles that have been written on this subject during the course of this campaign (thank you so much guys). But it is one that I stick by and I will tell you why. Bullying is a horrendous thing, ruining people's lives (and the lives of their families and loved ones), destroying self-esteem and and putting people in fear of their safety and well-being. When the victims are children (especially very young children) and the bullies are adults who are stronger, more intelligent and more developed then it is truly abhorrent. Very young children are very compliant and will do pretty much what a grown up says (except when they are having a tantrum) so when the abuser asks them to keep quiet for whatever reason, then generally they will do so. They do not know any better. By the time they have the courage to speak out, any physical evidence that will put the criminal away for a long time is gone. It is usually their word against that of their abuser and sometimes justice is not served. This needs to change.
One aspect of abuse that enrages me to the core is when parents abuse their children or their child relatives (nieces, nephews, grandchildren). I am going to focus on sexual abuse because that is the one which is the least reported. Women, by nature, in general are nurturers, men by nature protectors. So it is a gross perversion when they instead harm children in any way, shape or form; the most vulnerable, ones that were entrusted to their care. It is not just the males in the family that do this, but recently cases have appeared of females carrying out sexual abuse. In a study recently carried out, it is estimated that between 5-10% of abuse against prepubescent children is carried out by females but they are rarely done alone. If you want to know more, read this story, it will make you really think...http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/8022861.stm and listen to this http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_8094000/8094523.stm. It shows that bullying and abuse is not limited to the 'dirty old man' but now it is spreading. It must be stopped immediately, doing so may not be easy but must be attempted...
Can anything be done to ensure that something like this does not happen again? I am not sure, not sure at all. I do not want those who genuinely want to work with children to be put off. Working with kids is one of the most rewarding things anyone can do. But protections and safeguards must be put into place so that instances like this never happen again. One more victim is one victim too many . . . my thoughts and prayers are with adults and children who have suffered with this and especially those who think that no one hears their cries. Also to those whose families have been affected by this, silence is not golden and speaking out (which is the hardest thing) is the best thing you can do.
Take care and God bless you all . . .
© Ngozi Nwabineli - October 2009