Sep 24, 2020 Letters
At Blossom Inc. we understand that childcare and protection is a common responsibility of communities. Too often however, communities fail to uphold their mandate of positively raising children. Significant harm often comes to the young lives they have in their care, with many being lost in the process.
The brutal hate killings of Joel and Isaiah Henry followed by the killing of Haresh Singh, has driven home the point of our communal failure. Many are for the first time, realizing the depths to which children are regarded as second-class citizens.
Children are consistently defined as being less than. Their thoughts, dreams and lives are often framed as afterthoughts to the adults around them. They are seen as merely extensions to the struggles and triumphs of those who care for them and watch them grow.
Our children remain easy targets for disciplinary and hateful cruelty. While the tragedies certainly have shocked many of our sensitivities, we must be honest about how our latent hate, fear and disregard for each other has maintained this culture of violence. Largely, it has to do with the way in which we dehumanize children, particularly those who are poor and vulnerable.
The brutality we continue to see inflicted on the nation’s children does not happen by happenstance. It happens because it is what society’s cultural values, beliefs and stereotypes allow. These often intersect to promote the idea that children are not to be seen as people and therefore are not to be seen as deserving of humanity.
We have long maintained a firm grasp on harmful ideas on the way children should be raised and treated. There is harshness in the way we speak to them. So much of the language we use towards children and each other is grounded in violence. Their feelings and wants are frequently overlooked, as is their need for consent and a say in the decisions that affect them.
Punishment is often doled out to children with the belief that it is in the child’s best interest. The brutal ways in which we treat children in the name of discipline is present in all spheres of our society, from our homes and schools to our places of worship. We bemoan the continued violence in our communities without recognizing that we are a contributor to that violence.
Children replicate what they see and experience. If our homes and communities are filled with violence, children will replicate this pattern and take it with them throughout life. If they do not get the necessary support they need, the cycle continues. The rights, dignity and humanity of children must be respected. Doing this ensures that they have an opportunity to grow into healthy and well-adjusted adults who raise healthy and well-adjusted children.
As parents, caretakers, teachers, community members and leaders, we all have a role to play in breaking down the harmful standards and expectations we set for our nation’s children. We all have a role to play in challenging our harmful thoughts and feelings towards each other. We must be honest about our own limitations, capacity for empathy and how we move towards a society that is centered on healing from collective trauma. Our children are relying on us to do better. We must be accountable to them and support the promotion of healthy, safe and strong communities for each other.
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