On Child Neglect

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On the street. In the driveway. Up to the doorstep. In the common hall. Up the stairs. Round the corner. Push open the door. In the darkest nook. There she sits. Her hair straggly, unwashed, surrounds her face full of dirt and grime. Her clothing tattered and worn out, soiled with urine, have not been washed for weeks. Her stomach growls with fierce hunger, causing pain to stab her abdomen. She has not eaten in days. There is no bed in this room, only a sheet and a pillow. The sheet reeks of smoke, sex, and feces. The paint on the walls chips, and in the night, it’s the only company this girl knows. Her cheeks are tear stained, although she cannot remember the last time she cried. Bruises cover her arms, and the majority of her legs. A bowl of stale water sits next to her, like something a dog would drink from.
She sings. Quietly to herself. Her voice is sad. Ring around the rosy. Pocket full of posies. Ashes, ashes, we all fall down. There is no doll to keep her occupied. No mommy’s make-up to play with. No dog to run around in the warm spring weather with. No father to tell her he loves her. No mother to tell her she’s beautiful. There is a lady though. She gave birth to her, but that is not her mom. She made the decision. She’s never really there, and when she is, there is always strange men. Sometimes they touch her after the lady goes to sleep. Sometimes they hit her. Sometimes they never even see her. But they never know her name. Sofia. Sofia Marie. She doesn’t know her last name, but she doesn’t think it’s important. She’s seven years old, and never once stepped foot into a school, or a playground, or out of her house. The lady left again. No food. No water. No bed. No warmth. No family. No love.

Stories tell us about how children whom lived in abusive and neglectful homes often turn on their own spouses and children, causing the same harm they had received. It is defined as a never-ending cycle. These children grow and often are haunted by images or memories of their experiences. Often taking out their nightmares on young children by abusing them emotional, physically, or sexually. But, what about those who have no outlet? Those whom realize the unfairness of abusing others for their own misfortunes? They live their life in depression, many diagnosed with illnesses such as Bipolar Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and high levels of anxiety.
Neglect can be combated. There are weapons to fight every enemy. We place children, small children, in the care of other people when assertions have been made against the parents or parent. We hope that the families that they have been place in are more gentle and loving then whatever abuse or pain the child is coming from. Often, we as people forget about these children, and move on with our own lives. But how can we claim we are fighting against neglect, when by simply forgetting the needs of state children or street children, we are neglecting them ourselves? We see the children on the streets, we see the children begging for money, we see the children selling themselves so they can have food that night. What do we do? Look the other way. Pretend we don’t see the child prostitutes, pretend we don’t see the child with the bloated stomach dying from hunger, pretend we don’t see the sadness in each eye. We are not fighting against the neglect; we are feeding it, like a village that makes sacrifices of children to an outside force we are so fearful of.
As people, as citizens, as neighbors, as friends, as lovers, as family, and as caretakers, should we not be doing all we possible can to defeat this monster? Why do we continue to be so fearful? Are we afraid of some over-fantasized consequence? The never-ending cycle does not have to be never ending. Neglect is not a taboo topic. It is something to discuss daily. It is not a mystical creature that will stalk us in cold nights waiting to pounce. It will, one day, be fought with all human power, and every child will have a place to call home. We have one; don’t they deserve one as well?





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