Child Abuse affects us all

The popular saying ‘there is no smoke without fire’ rings true with the increasing disregard of one human to another regardless of age seemingly have no links to its folly.
Certainly, the use of illegal drugs, unemployment, greed and a host of other causes could have been added to the list for the above cause. The increasing rise in the abuse of children and subsequent abuse by children however, tends to be the smoke that many choose not to see, despite the maturity in its effects.

 

Take for example, the torture of an elderly lady of seventy three years old in her seven million pound mansion. They used water boarding, they boiled the kettle and threw the boiled water over her arm and they even placed a sodden towel over her head to give the feeling of drowning. The culprits were young men, the eldest was 31.
This was not an isolated case though. Too often, in diverse parts of the United Kingdom and you will read or hear of a veteran being beaten, cut up; and in this case he was eighty three years old. Even elderly women are now being targeted; some eventually die a week later.

 

I asked myself the question; why has it become a trend for the younger generation to be so hateful, disrespectful and indifferent towards the value of life itself?
Personally, I believe that the media has a lot to answer for, when Hollywood continues to up its game on violent films to match the competition it faces from the many violent video games and many of the lyrics in the music; be it from the genre of pop or rap, just to name a couple of the many other genre that exist. Not to mention some of the music videos, or even worse; the internet where they are exposed to just about anything.
However, when I watched a documentary on children’s care homes presented by the one-time British gold holder of javelin throwing; Fatima Whitbread, I was gobsmacked to say the least at how many angry children we as a society have produced. In fact, if it were not for the luck of Fatima finding a loving home with a family willing to adopt her and even mentor her sporting ability, then she would have been one of the statistics in prison, killed or even be killed. It was this that forced me to look at some statistics from NSPCC research of the Radford et al 2011 focusing on child abuse. I then had to put these statistics into context of at least one of the sources for our youngsters of today age 2015:

 

6196 in total were interviewed.
1761 were young adults aged 18-24,
2275 were children aged 11-17 and
2160 were parents of children under 11 years old.
The statistics that had me totally paralyzed was where it showed that 2/3
or 66% of contact sexual abused children were 0-17 which was perpetrated by someone aged under 18. 1 in 20; 11 – 17 years old experienced sexual abuse; but worse; statistics showed that 17,722 sexual crimes against children under sixteen were recorded in England and Wales in 2010/2011.

I could not believe my naivety in thinking that things could never be this bad until I further learnt that there was a total of:

 

5,115 rape of female children under the age of 16.
918 incidents of rape of a male under 16.
4301 sexual assault on a female child under 13.
1125 sexual assault on a male child under 13 and
310 offences of sexual grooming.

 

I was physically sick afterwards; of course I felt worse upon realizing that there are thousands more of unreported cases. Immediately, I could put into perspective the pain and passion of Fatima’s cause. She was one of the statistics for rape when she was raped as a child. It also became clear to me why so many foster parents are greeted by so many angry children and why so many of these same children just cannot cope in society, never mind the classroom.

 

I truly worry for my generation and even the older ones; of course the innocent ones who would never have thought in a million years of hurting a fly much less a child. I worry because the trend is showing that these disaffected children are turning their untreated cases on us; the innocent citizens of this broken society. Kid yourself not in believing that this is just a United Kingdom problem, since in many cases, the situation is even worse in many other countries around the world.
Clearly, there might be other influences for these sorts of abnormal behaviour, but on many occasions the profile of these culprits shows that they had been raped themselves or physically abused, and consequently, are products of their own surroundings or environments. The anger of those who were sexually abused; in most cases stays with them for life and if they are not treated, then I make no qualms about reiterating that it is us the innocent citizens of this wretched society who sometimes bear the brunt of it all.

In order to put a different spin on this, I wish to highlight the riots in London during the summer of 2011. The riots spread to Birmingham and other Cities and Towns which were mainly perpetrated by youngsters. I wonder how many of them were not disciplined as they grew up. I say this to point out to you that whilst I believe that the abuse of children will in some cases results in disaffected children; not showing your child the discipline and harsh punishments they deserve; then this will certainly lead to a tear away child and subsequently a tear away adult. If you have not disciplined your child, then I fervently believe that you have not done a good job as a parent. At the same time, there are many good parents who are helpless because they do everything that is humanely possible so that their children can be good citizen, but the wretched society and the peer pressure has proven to be a much stronger influence and this is where the frustration and worry becomes burdensome. In today’s world I find it difficult to blame the parents from many different angles. There are cases where punishments cannot even solve the indiscipline portrayed by the misbehaved ones. Saying that; what needs to be understood here is that there is a line which should never be crossed. When you start to hit a child for the wrong reasons; be it you had a bad day, you are frustrated with the economic woes or you can’t even think of a reason for hitting a child; then you have crossed that line. When you have hit a child on places of their bodies that you should never have done or you have indiscriminately hit a child with unreasonable forces with all sorts of instruments to leave a mark; then you have most definitely crossed that line.
The line is being crossed increasingly, and subsequently there are murders, and that is what they are, murders of children such as Baby P, Victoria Climbie and Khyra Ishaq, just to name a few victims. Furthermore, the statistics are there to show just how ridiculously things are.

 

Using the same total researched by Radford et al 2011;

1 in 80 children under eleven years old have experienced physical violence at the hands of a parent or guardian; in severe cases it was 1 in 120.

1 in 14 children aged 11-17 have experienced physical violence at the hands of a parent or guardian; in severe cases, it was 1 in 27. Can you now see how serious this really is?
Have you now realized that the probability of you knowing someone who was abused is very high indeed; and yet you would never know. You would never know in some cases because in cases of sexual abuse for example; 4 out of 5 children aged 11-17; that was 82.7% who experienced contact child abuse from a peer did not tell anyone else about it. This is CRAZY; but I understand the fear, shame and in some cases denial that these individuals would have experienced.

 

It was the very reason I chose to write the book, A Boy’s Cry and the sequel The Missing Fathers. Not only because it became my closure, but I wanted those affected by abuse to understand that they are not alone; children or young adults, whether or not they have experienced all sorts of abuse to understand that they have the power to protect themselves and to punish the perpetrators of such heinous crimes. To make them understand that they are the voice and that they should in a sensible and careful way speak out and report their abusers. We are all involved and it does not matter if you have never been through any form of abuse; but your children or even grandchildren might very well be the next victim. But what can we do?

I would like to follow in Fatima’s footsteps and encourage you to be a foster parent or a foster parent if you can; and if you can go a step further, then please adopt a child, and give them a loving and caring home. If you think that someone needs counselling, encourage them to get it. It could really make the world of difference and could even mean the difference between life and death. Instead of hitting a child there are alternative actions which can be very effective punishments. The punishment or sanctions of taking away from the child something he or she loves until they conform to your rules and regulations can be very effective indeed. Even sending those to their rooms or not allowing them to be with their friends can be equally effective. The American style of staying in the corner or that stool has worked for many depending on the age. It is however equally important to praise and reward them for the good that they have done; this is a crucial part of administering rewards and sanctions to children in order to see progress in their behaviour.

 

If you suspect that a child needs help as he or she shows all the tell-tale signs of abuse, then do your civil duty and help; even if it means shopping your best friend. Come on!
There is also Child line which is so easily accessible on the internet these days. Failing that, please contact NSPCC and they will certainly put you in the right direction. I have supported the NSPCC and I can tell you that it is great to support them, and I can only encourage you to do the same. If in a different country, try to find out your national charity that fights against child abuse and support them all the way. Here is a good reason to support them in the battle:
60-70%  child sex offenders target girls; while
20-33% of them target boys only and
10% do not care if it is a boy or a girl.

How can you know someone, or even suspect someone fitting such statistics and keep quiet, especially where there is insurmountable  evidence? If it was an adult who disclosed to you that they were abused, be their confidant; but encourage them to get professional help. If they read, then offer them a book along that line which will support them or at least give them some answers. Fatima was in her fifties and when I watched her, it was as if the pain was so fresh it may have happened yesterday; in fact, it was as if it had never left her. I sure hope that by reading this blog, that you will do your part; after all; you do not know everyone who lives on your street and sometimes even next door to you.

 

Andrew Beckford
Teacher and Author of A Boy’s Cry

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