Our leaders with responsibility for keeping our children safe in our communities are continuing to abdicate responsibility and are relying on children to protect themselves.
Yesterday another gang of men was found guilty of abuse, rape and prostituting girls in Aylesbury. But the Director of Children’s Services in Buckinghamshire said – “We know a great deal more about Child Sexual Exploitation now, I hope young people…will have the same courage to come forward.”
We cannot put the responsibility on young people to come forward! Abuse and slavery is manipulative and messy. You cannot rely on victims to be able to process objectively what is happening to them and then know how to respond appropriately to raise a disclosure!
It is interesting that in the Bible, one of the problems Moses had in getting the people of Israel free from slavery in Egypt was that they wouldn’t listen to him ‘because of their broken spirit and harsh slavery.’ (Exodus 6:9) If as a society we care about children who are at risk of being sexually exploited then we must take responsibility for the problem. Whoever you are you can equip yourself and those around you to be able to spot the signs that a child or a vulnerable adult may be being abused.
At the very least you can read this brief overview from the NHS which includes things you can do to prevent exploitation before it even happens. The NSPCC has more information here. Don’t assume that other people are doing something about this. You could be the person who spots the signs that a child in your street, school, church, family, or anywhere, is being exploited.
You could be even more proactive by volunteering your time to help at a local youth group or even opening up your home to a child or as a Host family for vulnerable teenagers.
Our children are children – we should take responsibility for protecting them.
My good friend Rob shared this photo on facebook today:
That’s powerful. We need to accept that the collective knowledge of humanity will always be limited by the extent to which we turn a blind eye to poverty.
Maya Angelou said:
“My mother said I must always be intolerant of ignorance but understanding of illiteracy. That some people, unable to go to school, were more educated and more intelligent than college professors.”
That is why the hard work of teachers and college tutors in the poor parts of our towns and cities is so vital. If you are a fantastic teacher than please think about working, or staying, in the school where you can influence children and young people who others might not give a chance to. Your care and effort could literally change the world.
And the same goes for health workers, social workers, youth workers, the police etc. etc. Anything you can do to pave the way for a young person to get stuck into their education is making society a better place.
Do you know any kids you can invest some time and love into? Take a chance and go for it and you might end up changing their lives and yours.
About 2600 years ago a man stood up at the gates of a temple and delivered a crazy speech that should have motivated those that were listening to stop doing evil to the poor and vulnerable and to restructure their society so that everyone was dealt with fairly. They didn’t and their country went down the pan.
It kind of reminds me of society today to be honest. Generally, when I talk to people who would probably describe themselves as middle class they admit that they have hardly been affected by the cuts, if at all. Where they are affected it is usually only luxuries they are having to forego. However, if you were to survey the most vulnerable or many of those who haven’t had the privilege of a full education then you would find story after story of people who are being pushed into poverty.
That people are having to resort to using services such as foodbanks is terrible. But what worries me even more are the seeds that are being sown. I heard of an estate where all the Family Support Worker posts were made redundant. These may not be classed as vital services for the community but the good that these professionals bring cannot be measured in a few short term outcomes. If you prevent one family from slipping into poverty and empower their children to complete their education then you are paving the way for health, good relationships, achievement and general well being for generations to come.
We have a responsibility as individuals to live lives that bring justice to one another. And our elected government has a responsibility too. The government’s sneering attitude to the poor has been documented in the media over the Christmas period. I’m really no expert nor informed on the most effective campaigns. However, we can all keep our eye out for petitions etc. and we can all write to our MPs in the run up to crucial votes about policy change that effect social justice. One specific example is to see if your MP is in this list of MPs who voted against investigating why foodbanks are being used so much at the moment. If they are, give them an earful and get your friends and family to do the same!
We can be the change that we want to see.
(You can read what the man referred to at the start of the post said in chapter 7 of the book of Jeremiah in the Bible. I do believe as a society and as individuals that we are complicit in some of the accusations in verse 9.)
All this violence and anarchy gets my sense of justice swinging from one extreme to another. I see the pictures of kids running wild with utter disrespect and self-indulgence and my anger gets my mind thinking about corporal punishment and retribution. Then in my calmer moments I think of the individuals within the masses and the neglect that must have gone into their lives to send them to such actions. Are we not all to blame? And we not reaping the harvest of allowing the values of society to evaporate?
Part of me wants to cage them all like the animals they are acting like. Leave the cages out in the elements for a few months in the middle of town. Let the public mock them, beat them, humiliate them. We might feel better for a while but it ain’t gonna heal the hurts of the community.
What would justice look like right now?
Listen to this. What is your favourite line?
I love loads of the lyrics but I’m gonna go for:
‘Thou shalt not think that any male over the age of 30 that plays with a child that is not their own is a peadophile… Some people are just nice.’
When I got on the train this morning there was a sole seat available near the back of the carriage. One man was spreadeagled over two seats and he had the body language that said don’t you dare ask me to move up. So I asked him, “Could you move up please?”
He gave me a look of disgust and stood up. So I slotted myself and my legs into the seat by the window. The disgusted man sat downwith his back to me. and his legs in the aisle. As I relaxed my shoulders into the seat they brushed his jacket on his back. The man squirmed away from me and perched himself as far away from me as possible.
This video below is very typical of me on the train on my way home from work.
Yesterday in our office Bev, Cheryl and I agreed that living in poverty* is a good thing because it stops us from buying too much alcohol! I noticed in Montenegro that it is not at all a bad thing not to have much money. The Manic Street Preachers use the line, “We love the winter, it brings us closer together.” in their number one hit The Masses Against The Classes**. That is so true from what I have seen in Montenegro. The main source of heating in Rada’s family’s home is a wood stove in the living area. It is very cold there so people need to be in that room to keep warm. As a result people spend all there time with other people and not isolated in their own little room or space.
I don’t think it is just the cold that brings people together. I observe in life that it is tough times in general:
- Although things are changing fast, when I first went to Montenegro there were not the luxuries that we would take for granted in Britain and so the nation is built on culture that is not entertainment driven and sees the entirety of people’s spare time spent visiting and talking with families and friends.
- The ONLY time you will get English strangers speaking to each other is when things go wrong.
- I’m reading Whiteteeth by Zadie Smith at the moment and Archie and Samad’s relationship turns into a friendship when they are isolated and cut off from the entirety of the British allies.
- It is not unusual for people to turn to God only when things are going wrong.
In conclusion, I think one of the problems with the capitalist consumerist society we live in is that, although people get incredibly depressed and economically things are tough at the moment we don’t have that foundation of truely pulling together. This really needs to change otherwise I see there will be a stark increase in family breakdown, depression, suicide, additction etc. as people stuggle to cope with this world which doesn’t seem to be changing in favour of Western society.
Dreary thoughts on a dull wintry day? Read tomorrow to perk up.
*Poverty meaning not living like the media tells us we all should be living
** This was the first number one of the 21st century I do believe. I remember being incredibly excited (aged 17) being driven over to Plant Life in Manchester on the Sunday evening listening to the chart show as they knocked Westlife’s ‘I Have Dream’ off the Christmas pedestal.