Child abuse thrives when good people do nothing.
A child’s traumatic shriek yanked me out of my daydream as I took a stroll through my neighbourhood. Apparently, the child - terrified of a menacing dog - tried to get out of a yard, and two adults, a man and a woman, intentionally blocked his way and laughed. The man held the gate from outside so that the child felt trapped with the much-feared dog. The child, aged between four and five, was in a state of shock. The two adults, both helpers, remained unmoved. The child’s parents were not home.
For a moment, I wanted to look away, reasoning that I’d no business sticking my large nose into other people’s business.
“If this were your son, would you walk away?” My conscience tortured me.
Without further hesitation, I demanded that they stop what they were doing, threatening to return and report the incident to the child’s parents. Dazed the couple mumbled an apology and the tearful child went quiet.
As I walked home, I didn’t feel like a hero though, because I didn’t have enough courage to return and face the child’s parents. For years afterwards, a feeling that I’d let down the child by not pinning down his abusers haunted me.
Because of that incident, I resolved that I’d mind other people’s business when it came to the cruelty to children. Of course, I’m no private investigator, hunting for injustices. I only act on those I stumble upon.
Recently I found myself lecturing a mother who drove her car with her one-year-old son sitting in the front seat, unbelted. In such situations, I’ve discovered that if I’m respectful and humorous, I minimize possible backlashes from people whose business I meddle in.
In the media, we read of gruesome stories of young children who die in the hands of their parents or carers. Sadly, some adults will be aware of the abuse and choose to live in denial until it’s too late for the defenceless child. If we know of a child who is being abused
, sexually, emotionally, or physically, let’s speak up
Contact the relevant authorities, even anonymously. In my view, if I decide to remain quiet when I know that an innocent and defenceless child is being abused, then I automatically become an accomplice.
Do you think Sipho did the right thing? Would you intervene if a child was being abused?