The Swazi Observer
Let that number sink in for a minute.
Someone on one of my groups pointed out that there are 2 Billion children in the world so this would be roughly 10 per cent. Knowing the state of women and girls in most of the world, I'd say that number is really low. It also makes me sick, as does the fact that most of these children are victimized by someone in their own families, or people they know. Also:
- corporal punishment such as caning and beating was still standard practice in schools in a number of countries, and often results in school drop-outs.
- between 20 and 65 percent of school age children claim to have been verbally or physically bullied in a 30-day period.
- 126 million children are involved in hazardous work, often enduring beatings, humiliation and sexual violence by employers
- institutionalised children [whether in orphanages or detention facilities] are at a particular risk of violence from the staff responsible for their care including torture, beatings, isolation, restraints, rape and harassment.
- violence in the family in the form of harsh punishment is common in both industrialised and developing countries.
- Children in all regions have reported the physical and psychological hurt they suffer at the hands of their parents and care-givers.
- over 500 000 children a year die from homicide
- between one and two million treated for violence-related injuries
"The majority of violent acts against children are said to be perpetrated by people who are part of their lives such as parents, teachers, schoolmates, employers and care-givers. In only 16 States has all violence against children been prohibited, leaving the vast majority of the world’s child population without adequate legal protection from violence."
This United Nations report, prepared by Secretary General Kofi Annan’s independent expert, Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, goes on to make recommendations that will address these problems, but it doesn't mention the real source of this barbarous behavior - patriarchy.
==BIG RAMBLING RANT COMING UP==
Matriarchal cultures don't view children or their mothers as property. That's a really important concept that we really need to get down under and comprehend its effects. We have to root it out of our psyches. Sexual abuse is not common in undisturbed indigenous cultures. James DeMeo has traced the source of sexual and physical violence against children to a region he calls Saharasia, beginning around 4000 b.c.e. It has spread through modern cultures as patriarchy moved throughout the world. Its origins lie in sexual and somatic repression coupled with violent treatment of infants and children. It's a remnant of a time when dominant cultures reacted to starvation with violence, greed, theft, slavery and genocide overrunning peaceful, agrarian matrifocal societies. Over the millenia, these abberant human behaviors have become institutionalized. We've been taught from infancy that these are natural tendencies that civilization must overcome. We've been taught to admire warriors, robber barons, slave traders - the Stanley Kowalski's and Gordon Gekko's of the world. There is nothing normal or human about this behavior.
Get that. It's not normal. Healthy humans don't wage war, rape, steal, kill one another for any reason. It isn't natural - it's sickness. Hurting each other is sickness. Taking more than you need, taking from one another that which is not freely given is sick. Humans are social, cooperative beings. We have the capacity for empathy - all mammals do. The natural instinct of the human animal is to protect babies. Even other species will protect babies from different animals - I've seen huge dogs lie quietly while kittens nap on their backs, and I've seen more than one pet dog or cat intervene when a parent attempted to "discipline" a child. The irony is that physical "discipline" does just the opposite - violence, aggression, and delinquent behavior in youngsters is a direct result of violent and oppressive treatment.
I know I'm repeating myself. I feel as if I'm shouting in the wind. What will it take to make us wake up to the fact that human beings are naturally peaceful and cooperative? What is going to bring us back to that natural instinct to protect children. To feed them if they're hungry, to soothe them if they're frightened, to allow them to grow strong and unbroken by anger or intimidation? To stop the multi-generational cycle of sexual abuse of children?
I know this - we are doing just the opposite right now. I don't know the answer, but I know it isn't to sit them in front of a flashing screen that overstimulates their synapses as they compete to see who can commit more murders. It isn't to let them watch movies where people are mutilated and tortured. We can't continue to inure them to the sight of blood and desensitize them to the suffering of others. One of the most disturbing things I've seen recently is a segment on 60 Minutes about teenaged boys who go out and beat homeless people to death for the fun of it. I can't get the picture of this young man, now incarcerated, responding to the question of why he did it. "I don't know" he said with a souless, unaffected tone "It was fun.. you know, exciting." He showed no emotion - no remorse for what he had done, no understanding that this man he and his friends had tortured and blugdeoned to death, stopping only to laugh at his cries for help, for no particular reason, was a human being that deserved respect or kindness. Killing to avenge is wrong; killing to steal abominable; killling for no reason is horrific. I bought a book recently called The Sociopath Next Door which states that 1 in 10 people has no conscience. Look around your office or classroom or even your dinner table - which one is it? One of those people could murder you for no real reason and be more upset about breaking a nail as they did it.
There's a meme going around Live Journal these days that begins with the following quote:
"Why is it that, as a culture, we are more comfortable seeing two men holding guns than holding hands?" - Ernest Gaines
My question is Why is it, as a culture, we find it more necessary to spank a child than to hug it? Both questions have the same answer - patriarchal dominance and erotophobia.
More later. The frustration is making me sick. I'm in that endless loop between anger and ennui.