Editorial

Death of a Toddler

MILAN FERDINAND

THE death of a toddler from “severe brain damage” while in the care of grownups—a father and step mother—has understandably shocked the entire nation and underlines the sharp deterioration in social behaviour and practices that has taken place in our country in recent years.

We have all seen the various manifestations: the rampant violence, the disregard for human life, the tendency towards aggression and to lash out over the slightest incident. Mind you, it’s not only physical, it is also verbal. We have become a nation where tolerance, even of personal views, has become a problem for many; where one is likely to get a severe tongue-lashing for holding and expressing views that are contrary to someone else’s. These are all attitudes that now pervade the society and they can be found everywhere, from the houses of parliament to our streets and communities.

Check out the way our politicians treat each other and how neighbours relate to one another. We seem forever ready to “get” someone because they said or did something that we didn’t like. It is even worse for people who have some kind of power or position, political, legal, corporate etc. in the society. You criticize them or hold them to account and you are sure to feel their wrath, one way or the other, with punishment, victimization and vindictiveness. We see the examples almost daily, especially in the media, this constant lashing out and attempts to get even. The fact is every incident of conflict, aggression and violence that occurs here, is a reflection of the general state of things in our country. Sadly, that is the behaviour that is being widely emulated.

What would cause anyone to inflict so much violence on a four year old child as to snuff out his little life? Indeed, what could one so young do to qualify for that kind of violence? Surely, it couldn’t be that whatever blows that were imparted to the toddler were aimed at disciplining him for something or the other. Some people are trying to use this incident to make the case against corporal punishment, but let’s not get carried away here. We do not know the facts and it is quite possible that this had to do with something more sinister and far-reaching than discipline and here, imaginations can run wild trying to come up with a possible equation.

The Police will investigate this incident. The people at the Department of Human Services, who for so long have been forced to operate without adequate resources while the problems they must attend to escalate, will re-examine whether they did all that was possible after they received the one report they say they did receive that this little boy was being ill-treated, and most likely—because this is always the case—the nation as a whole will return to business as usual immediately afterwards until the next toddler is killed in similar circumstances or another equally revolting incident occurs.

We wait to see if anyone anywhere will take a stand and decide that this is not going to happen in St Lucia again, by putting the measures and procedures in place to ensure that reports of child abuse will be given more urgent attention in the future because we will spend the money and the effort that is required to protect our children since we are a civilized society, a people who value human life.

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