This quote fits in with some other things I have been linking to and commenting on recently. The sad realty that many children who grow up traumatized or neglected, tend to struggle as adults, but instead of seeing them as people who need support and help, we lose any sympathy we had for them when they were “defenseless children”. Somehow we expect abused children to turn into successful adults without any problems the second they turn 18. Life doesn’t work that way.
These sanitised images, used to portray child abuse and neglect without upsetting us, serve only to distort the true nature of the problem. These pictures create a false impression that the victims are perpetual children, frozen in time, just waiting for us to reach into the photograph and remove them from harm. As children, they receive unlimited sympathy and professed compassion from us, the compassionate public.
But the second these kids are legally culpable, our entire posture towards them changes. We adopt the role of the abusive parent or guardian, with a short temper and unrealistically high expectations. The moment they stop looking like children we collectively reject, exclude, punish and condemn them. When the truth, whether we want to accept it or not, is that in many cases, the neglected and abused kids, the unruly young people and the lousy, irresponsible, violent, drug-addicted parents are all the same person at different stages of their life; human beings, manufactured by poverty, scuttling on the conveyor belt toward complete social exclusion with the assembly line always – without fail – beginning in a dysfunctional home.