Some people shouldn't have children

Do you think we value children enough in our society? I’ve been thinking about that lately and I’m not sure we do. Children should be our most precious resource, but a lot of the time we’re quick to criticise children and their shortcomings without recognising the role we play in their problems. As a society we seem to be fascinated by youth and beauty, but children are a burden, and one we still think should be seen and not heard.

I don’t mean to suggest that people don’t love their children, but I find it hard to believe that we’re doing all we can as a society to protect them. You only need to open a newspaper to see another story about child abuse and neglect. If there’s one thing I hate it’s seeing a child hurt, particularly a defenceless one, and the people who do speak for children’s rights seem to be silenced all too easily.

The story of Megan Meier’s death seems to have caught fire over the last few days, particularly among bloggers. If you haven’t heard the story, she committed suicide in October 2006 after receiving a flood of abuse from a 16 year old boy on MySpace. She was three weeks shy of her 14th birthday. What makes the story so despicable is that the boy never existed; instead “he” was a persona created by the parents of a girl who had been Megan’s best friend. Megan had received messages calling her “fat” and “a slut”, and the last, her father said, was this: “Everybody in O’Fallon knows how you are. You are a bad person and everybody hates you. Have a shitty rest of your life. The world would be a better place without you.” Megan hanged herself shortly afterwards.

The St. Charles Journal brought attention to the story earlier this month and I’ve been following it since then. It’s one of those stories that you can’t quite believe because it’s so horrible; we all recognise the cyber-bullying tropes in the story, but that adults would be responsible is stunning. I can’t even begin to imagine why they would do it… it’s incomprehensible.

But there’s something else about the story that’s been troubling me, the emotions surrounding it. The news article refused to name the family, which I agree with – but bloggers have. Dozens of blogs have not just named the family, but also their address. One comment was even inciting people to pursue the parents “over and over, until they too take their lives”. The outrage is fast becoming a public lynching.

I’m disgusted and outraged by what happened, but this anger is not helping; it’ll only make things worse. People taking the law into their own hands solves nothing and does not bring justice. What Megan’s death shows more is that there’s a hole in the law that needs to be filled. The parents didn’t tie the noose around Megan’s neck but surely they played a role in her death; there should be criminal consequences for that, consequences which do not exist under the current system.

A change to the law is what Ron and Tina Meier want, but once again it comes too late. That’s what really annoys me: the laws worldwide just don’t seem capable of keeping up with the new advances in technology, of protecting children in our world. It shouldn’t be acceptable that it takes a tragedy to bring about change… but of course, it’s the only thing that does.

It’s a sad fact of life that you need a licence to buy a car or a gun, but anyone can have a child. Perhaps that’s the real problem here. Just because you can have a child doesn’t make you a good parent. To me it isn’t creating a life that makes you a mother or a father, it’s that you care for and love your child, that you provide for them and would do anything to keep them safe. I would hope that’s what it means to most people.

That parents could do this to someone else’s child stuns me. You just have to think that some people shouldn’t have children, and they would be at the top of my list. I hope they come to realise what they’ve done, but more than anything I hope Megan’s family can find some closure, and that Megan can rest in peace.

Some people shouldn’t have children

Do you think we value children enough in our society? I’ve been thinking about that lately and I’m not sure we do. Children should be our most precious resource, but a lot of the time we’re quick to criticise children and their shortcomings without recognising the role we play in their problems. As a society we seem to be fascinated by youth and beauty, but children are a burden, and one we still think should be seen and not heard.

I don’t mean to suggest that people don’t love their children, but I find it hard to believe that we’re doing all we can as a society to protect them. You only need to open a newspaper to see another story about child abuse and neglect. If there’s one thing I hate it’s seeing a child hurt, particularly a defenceless one, and the people who do speak for children’s rights seem to be silenced all too easily.

The story of Megan Meier’s death seems to have caught fire over the last few days, particularly among bloggers. If you haven’t heard the story, she committed suicide in October 2006 after receiving a flood of abuse from a 16 year old boy on MySpace. She was three weeks shy of her 14th birthday. What makes the story so despicable is that the boy never existed; instead “he” was a persona created by the parents of a girl who had been Megan’s best friend. Megan had received messages calling her “fat” and “a slut”, and the last, her father said, was this: “Everybody in O’Fallon knows how you are. You are a bad person and everybody hates you. Have a shitty rest of your life. The world would be a better place without you.” Megan hanged herself shortly afterwards.

The St. Charles Journal brought attention to the story earlier this month and I’ve been following it since then. It’s one of those stories that you can’t quite believe because it’s so horrible; we all recognise the cyber-bullying tropes in the story, but that adults would be responsible is stunning. I can’t even begin to imagine why they would do it… it’s incomprehensible.

But there’s something else about the story that’s been troubling me, the emotions surrounding it. The news article refused to name the family, which I agree with – but bloggers have. Dozens of blogs have not just named the family, but also their address. One comment was even inciting people to pursue the parents “over and over, until they too take their lives”. The outrage is fast becoming a public lynching.

I’m disgusted and outraged by what happened, but this anger is not helping; it’ll only make things worse. People taking the law into their own hands solves nothing and does not bring justice. What Megan’s death shows more is that there’s a hole in the law that needs to be filled. The parents didn’t tie the noose around Megan’s neck but surely they played a role in her death; there should be criminal consequences for that, consequences which do not exist under the current system.

A change to the law is what Ron and Tina Meier want, but once again it comes too late. That’s what really annoys me: the laws worldwide just don’t seem capable of keeping up with the new advances in technology, of protecting children in our world. It shouldn’t be acceptable that it takes a tragedy to bring about change… but of course, it’s the only thing that does.

It’s a sad fact of life that you need a licence to buy a car or a gun, but anyone can have a child. Perhaps that’s the real problem here. Just because you can have a child doesn’t make you a good parent. To me it isn’t creating a life that makes you a mother or a father, it’s that you care for and love your child, that you provide for them and would do anything to keep them safe. I would hope that’s what it means to most people.

That parents could do this to someone else’s child stuns me. You just have to think that some people shouldn’t have children, and they would be at the top of my list. I hope they come to realise what they’ve done, but more than anything I hope Megan’s family can find some closure, and that Megan can rest in peace.

Stand up for what you believe in

Today is Blogging Against Abuse Day. It’s an initiative created by BlogCatalog asking bloggers on Thursday, September 27th to write about putting an end to an abuse they feel passionately about. The goal is to try to form the largest group of bloggers to write about an important cause on the same day, and by doing so to raise awareness to help prevent abusive situations. If you’d like to join us, please do; it’s a wonderful initiative and worthy of your support.

I feel strongly about condemning all forms of abuse; physical, emotional and psychological abuse is about power, holding power over another life, denying someone the freedom to be all they can be. It’s a cycle that is difficult to break; some people spend their entire lives as victims, enabling the abuse, while others grow into the behaviour and inflict it on other people. I believe we should condemn abuse wherever we see it; if we turn a blind eye, how are we really any different?

There are two causes though I feel very strongly about. The first is animal abuse. I can’t describe how awful I feel when I hear a story about an animal which has been killed or maimed by humans, or when I hear about something like mulesing, or see abandoned pets crowding RSPCA shelters. One of the worst experiences I’ve ever had was five years ago when eight kittens were left abandoned outside our apartment. At first we didn’t know they were abandoned (there were lots of stray cats in our area), so we left a cardboard box and some milk for them. A couple of hours later we heard mewling. An eight-year-old boy had destroyed the box and was kicking and kicking them again and again and again. We scared him off but three of the kittens had broken legs and bruised faces; one couldn’t move at all, was just whimpering. We took them to the local vet and two had to be put down. It was just a despicable, cruel act against defenceless victims; I don’t believe in evil, not in the biblical sense, but I shudder to think of what that boy might be like in 10 years time. I’ll always speak out against animal abuse; I hope to adopt a pet at some stage in the next year myself and when I do, I’ll be adopting one from my local shelter. It just seems like a simple thing to do, a small way to make a difference.

The other cause I wanted to mention is abuse of freedom. I believe everybody has the right to be free, the right to choose the life they want to live; perhaps that makes me naive but it’s what I believe, what I feel every day. You can just look at what’s happening in Burma right now to know how important it is. The raids are terrible and should be condemned by every leader in the world; likewise the continued detention of Aung San Suu Kyi is a disgrace. On a day when we’re talking about abuse, I can’t let the violence go by without saying something against it. And the same goes for Zimbabwe, Sudan, Congo, Tibet and countless other countries and republics where their people are not truly free or live with violence, and it’s why I feel strongly about censorship in Turkey, China, Pakistan and Thailand as well. It’s what Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Freedom is like life. You cannot be given life in installments. You cannot be given breath but no body, nor a heart but no blood vessels. Freedom is one thing — you have it all or you are not free.

So that’s what I have to say. I think this is a wonderful initiative and I’m proud to be part of it. Alone our voices fade into the background, but perhaps together a group of committed people can be heard. We might not change the world but hopefully we’ll do some good.

So I wonder what abuses you’re against? Write something and let us know. 😉