Take responsibility for our children
A baby is murdered. We will march. We will protest. We will take to Facebook and use capital letters to condemn the actions of the perpetrators. The court will hand down its judgment.
Then the calm will come. Danger lives here.
Our babies don’t need us to march.
They don’t need us to scream when they die. Our babies need us to give a damn when they are alive. They need us to see them, to not just register their existence. Connection is key to saving our children. If we have a gut feeling about a child in danger, don’t just say something, scream. If we think something is wrong, don’t march with a crowd, march to that house. Annoy the police with your concerns. Scream your anger.
People, we need to stop reacting when a child dies and start being proactive when they are alive.
This is a community problem. A family problem. Our problem.
We live in a society where we care for our own and the responsibility of other people’s children is not ours.
But when a child dies, we are willing to pull out our prams, strap on our runners and march.
It is evident that our attitudes, our marching, our protests - they don’t work.
We might sleep easy - we’ve done our job, we marched today.
But where were we when Shortland Street was on and we could hear screaming from next door? What did we do for that child we drove past who was wearing shorts and a T-shirt and nothing on his feet on a cold winter’s day? What did we do when we saw a child clobbered by an adult in the supermarket?
I can hear the chorus sing: But it’s the parents’ responsibility to feed their kids. I sing this response: We feed their killers in jail for free, but we will be damned if these kids get a free sandwich for lunch?
Poverty and child abuse go hand in hand. We need to get off our high horse. Our arguments are dead like the hundreds of children lying in graves around New Zealand.
Let us stop marching, let us stop protesting. We need to start opening our eyes to the problems we drive past every day. Let’s start interfering before more of our children die.
I sit here surrounded by countless court documents detailing how these children die. I feel numb. I feel responsible. In every case, someone knew something was not right and said nothing. People failed to check on the child and another child dies.
In a paper clipping from 2008: ‘‘A man has been criticised for not notifying CYF when he saw Nia thrown on a washing line; he told her abusers to stop, then went back inside, and now says he wishes he had done more.’’
I often wonder what Nia Glassie would be doing now if that man had gone just a little bit further and told police.
We condemned those neighbours, but the mentality of minding our business still exists.
They didn’t deliver the fatal blow, but they certainly didn’t stop it. They are culpable.
We can all agree that people who commit these heinous crimes against our most vulnerable are inhuman.
They are past the point of reason.
Let’s not give them any credit. They won’t do the right thing. They don’t know how.
It falls onto the rest of us to step up. It becomes our responsibility through their inability to be a human.
Let us take the spotlight and shine it brightly on the children still living. Let’s save those children.
Too many children are dying at the hands of their caregivers.