“Children abused at an alarming rate” was the frightening headline of an article in the Trinidad Guardian newspaper on 7 May 2016. The article revealed that during the past year more than 5,000 incidents of child abuse were committed in the relatively small nation of Trinidad & Tobago. Why did my fellow citizens allow this to occur? If 5,000 cases were reported in 12 months the troubling question remains- how many were not reported? Many readers should be wondering about the number of children abused in their countries and the repercussions of such incidents.
Boys who are verbally abused cannot suddenly develop into men who will praise and comfort others. Likewise, a precious infant or teenaged boy who is sexually and physically abused cannot develop into a normal functioning adult. A boy or girl living in such a volatile environment is similar to a ticking bomb waiting to explode. In 2015, the Independent newspaper (in England) estimated that there were 16 million to 30 million orphans in India! This is a very high number and the global figure would be even higher. How many of these orphans would survive to adulthood? How many would receive affection and warmth to develop into a caring adult? Who would protect these orphans from abuse and neglect? Do not believe that only social workers, counsellors or specially trained personnel could intervene to end these tragic scenarios.
Some who read the above sentences would want to challenge my concept of improving and saving our boys. We should not waste time and energy in trivial debates as to what it means to be a “normal boy” or “normal adult” or what is and what is not our ‘responsibility’. The fact is that there is a crisis and we need to save our boys from the shadows. We must act NOW. We need to bring them into the light.
As a human being, you have a responsibility to protect other vulnerable and weak human beings. You have a responsibility to protect those who cannot defend themselves- the voiceless. The duty of protecting and saving our boys and girls should not be restricted to a moral, ethical or religious issue. It should be our natural instinct to protect and save. This should be the defining characteristic of our species. If we allow apathy and selfishness to become part of our lives then we have embraced failure.
In our societies, we have the ‘trophy child’ or ‘trophy children’. People often boast of having a child or children and often portray themselves as being a good caregiver, parent or parents. The reality is different as often the caregiver, parent or parents have inadequate parenting skills or have completely failed in their job to raise a child or children to successfully integrate into society. The result is a dysfunctional child who is anti-social or a burden to society.
For too long the world has avoided or moved very slowly in dealing with the trauma, neglect and abuse endured by our boys. Of course, the media would not want to highlight these issues because they seem bland and boring. The reality is that a sensational story would obviously capture more attention and sell more copies of newspapers and magazines.
Observers of the World Day of the Boy Child salute those boys who are struggling to survive. Yes, we salute those teenagers and young men who have beaten the odds and become role models and successful men. We must never be ashamed of our boys and have them hiding in the shadows of life. They must be aware of their diversity and different talents.