Take re­spon­si­bil­ity for our chil­dren

South Waikato News - - Your Paper, Your Place - FLORENCE KERR

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.

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