Yet, nothing prepared me for the day when I witnessed a guardian yelling, cursing and hitting an adolescent boy who he appears to be walking school.
That was the scene playing out on a city street, one early weekday morning I wish could have ended with the simple press of a “pause” or “stop” button because the events taking place here just didn’t seem right.
Maybe I failed remember that for many children who have starring roles in scenes like these, children who you may never get to know, this kind of story is the norm.
Oh but how could I forget about the time I heard of a mother yanking her daughter around by the hair.
Luckily for this little girl, a close friend of her mother had good timing and was there to intervene.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the first incident, so who knows how many times the scenes starring this beautiful, bright and cheerful little girl I once knew, have played on “repeat.”
Maybe I could stand to learn a lesson from that person who intervened, on how important it is to speak up for the little ones who were cast in awful, heartbreaking roles that they never auditioned for. I can only wonder how many of us heard Derek Luke when he asked who would cry for the little boy, beaten and molested by his foster care parents in “Antoine Fisher,” and yet it seems like we’re not listening when it occurs outside of the movie theater and away from TV screens.
So I write this today not only because I remember how difficult it was to watch those biographical dramas made famous by Oscar winning actors -- portraying real life experiences of men who were once boys suffering at the hands of the very people who were supposed to protect them from harm; but because I also remember walking down the street that morning and feeling helpless like nothing could be done to defend a young child whose day has already started off on the wrong foot.
I remember being in disbelief when learning that someone I knew had a tendency to lash out at her kid for petty reasons, or maybe no reason at all. Maybe it’s because I also remember not knowing the difference between what falls in the category of discipline and what constitutes abuse.
Or maybe it’s because I remember how we’ve all been trained to mind our own business – after all, no one wants trouble. At least, that’s what you learn from spending a lot of time in the cities, where everyone is doing their own thing. Thanks to social and cultural norms that vary from one nation, religion, generation, etc. to another, there has been a dangerous slippery slope that leaves far too many children vulnerable to neglect, violence and death.
I write this today because yes, I came, I saw, I heard, I remember, I’m listening and I too am wondering who cries for all of the little children when the rest of us don’t.
My A-to-Z Challenge post for Letter C is in honor of National Poetry Month and National Child Abuse Prevention Month.