License to Breed: Ending Child Abuse and Neglect

First for some background. This post was inspired by a throwaway comment I heard in the office today. Colleagues discussing the lack of support a young person received from her parents noted that some people shouldn’t be allowed to have children. The actual comment was some people should have their tubes tied to which my other colleague noted you needed a license to own a dog. This got me thinking. Although I believe that everyone should have the right to procreate it is also true that some people aren’t suited to be parents or aren’t ready to be good parents when they have a child.

To my mind we need to do more to ensure that our children are well looked after and provided for. The NSPCC current statistics suggest that there are over 50,000 children identified as suffering from abuse and/or neglect. This is only a rough estimate as abuse and neglect are usually hidden from public view. Taking this into account the NSPCC estimate that for every one child identified there are another eight suffering (full info here). These statistics are appalling. I don’t mean to suggest that all these children are being abused or neglected at the hands of their parents. The numbers, however, do point to a serious problem in our society.

With this in mind it does seem like society needs to find a way to ensure children are adequately protected and provided for by their guardians. When I speak of protection and provision I don’t mean simply a warm bed and food. A psychiatrist once told me that it is sometimes easier to heal the scars left by physical deprivation at the hands of a guardian/parent than those left by emotional deprivation. I’m not a parent, but I have been and continue to be someone’s child. Children need more than just nutrients and physical safety. They need to feel loved and cherished. They need to grow up in an environment which imbues them with an understanding of their own unique identity, their vast capabilities etc.

Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not suggesting that people should have a license to procreate, as you do to own a pet, or have their tubes tied (a horrific idea). The comparison between pets and children simply serves to highlight the fact that we need to do more to ensure children will be safeguarded by their parents. I wish I had the answer to this solution but I don’t. It certainly isn’t removing someone’s right to breed as a preventative measure. That doesn’t mean that more doesn’t need to be done. Until such time that someone has a good idea I urge you to think about these issues and if possible donate money/time/awareness to the NSPCC because as they note ‘every child is worth fighting for’ (donate here!).

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