Sunday Food For Thought

By Linda Edwards

Both Raffique Shah’s column at Trinicenter.com and the Express analysis of the similarities of abuse and failure in Nixmary’s and Emily’s cases require more than Sunday reading before lunch, then putting away the papers for a good meal and an afternoon nap.

It seems to me that they require printing out or cutting out by every individual in every government agency that deals with children, including, and especially magistrates and police officers and posting above a sheet labelled ‘Action Plan For Today’.

The latter should be on an erasable sheet with pen attached, and daily, each officer, each magistrate, each teacher and nurse as well as community welfare officers must look at it and ask, “What Will I Do Today To Make Things Better?” The day in which any individual cannot positively list something that was done at the end of the day, for children, should be followed by a day of fasting, abstinence and penitence (but I forgot, we seem to have lost our spiritual moorings).

All our religious groups in TnT know the deep meanings of fasting, abstinence and penance.

You could smile at a child, ask him or her if she is all right. Be alert to signs of abuse, and be willing to do something about it. And keep working on it, no matter what.

The present Bishop of York, in England, was a lawyer in Uganda when his friend, the Bishop of Uganda was tortured and murdered by Idi Amin. He fled Uganda saying, “You kill my friend, I take his place”. He became a priest who has worked tirelessly to heal racism in Britain. He was a significant factor in the investigation of the racist murder of the son of Jamaican immigrants, Stephen Lawrence – a case which brought significant changes in how police investigate crime in London. He was ordained Bishop of York – the second highest position in the Anglican Church, earlier this year. Now, that is man, walking in the footsteps of the redeemer, turning away from a lucrative law practice to help make a better world. Most Trinis might laugh and think, “He stupid, oui”.

Its been twenty years since the video “Shattered Lives” was made. How many thousands of lives have been shattered since? The perps are the same. Fathers and stepfathers, complicit or malleable mothers, ignorant and apparently uncaring policemen, a teacher or two willing to report the incident, and neighbours turning a blind eye. Magistrates who cannot cut through the clutter to deal with the important things are also to blame. They help cut Emily’s throat.

We need a triage system for the courts, where matters involving children need to be put up front in a folder marked MUST DO TODAY!

Do we need some foreign company to come to TnT to create a movie called “Monster Nation” for us to see that we need to wake up and save our children?

Let us no longer create the impression that we are immune to the mute suffering of our children, or that they are the subject of anger for a few days only. Each person in the nation has a role to play in caring for our young people. When the government is serious about an issue, they do more than a commission of enquiry. They set a timetable for the report, they put money into remediation, and they create enabling legislation to make a difference. THEY RETRAIN STAFF and PROMOTE STAFF WILLING TO BE CHANGE AGENTS.

We need to ask: How much of this have we done? If the urgent matter of a child in need is not heard in a timely manner, in the courts of our land, and action taken, then we condemn that child to death – a slow, painful, tortuous death that no four year old, or six year old or any human deserves.

Children do not cry for nothing. They laugh at nothing. A crying child is a sign of distress. We need to respond to crying children. We need to look for signs of recent crying in their eyes.

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