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.

When luck smiles on you

I’m starting to think I should buy a lottery ticket. I’ve never been a particularly lucky person; I tend to believe that things happen more when we work for them, or like karma. But lately I’ve felt like my fortunes have improved… and I’m wondering how far I should push it?

Last week was the Melbourne Cup. It’s Australia’s biggest horse race – and an excuse to party. They call it The Race That Stops A Nation because it’s watched by millions; work stops (or people call in sick), most schools pause, it’s a public holiday in Melbourne, and everybody at the track dresses up and drinks champagne. Most of the outfits are good; some are tragic. Of course they’re the memorable ones. 😉

Usually I don’t bet, but I make an exception for the Cup. And this year I won! Efficient became the first horse since Phar Lap to win the Victoria Derby/Melbourne Cup double. Incredibly I got the quinella as well, which is a first for me. I’ve won the Cup six times now, though I know nothing about racing.

Winning was a nice surprise, and since then I’ve had small things go my way. Nothing major, but still the kind of things that don’t happen for me that often. I thought I was going to be late for a bus and it arrived just as I got there, which never happens; I heard from a few friends I hadn’t heard from in a while; there was an unadvertised sale at one of the music stores and I got 2 DVDs and a couple of CDs I hadn’t been able to find for years, and on sale. And just today a letter which I thought I’d lost or thrown away turned up when I decided I’d have one last look for it. I swear I’d looked through that drawer a hundred times, but today, there it was.

Of course all of these are probably just coincidences, but I can’t help feeling like I’m on a bit of a roll at the moment. And I think that’s the most likely reason. Winning put me in a good mood and I think if we feel happier, then often it has a roll-on effect; more good things seem to happen to us and we don’t notice the bad in the same way. We make our own luck.

The thing which worries me about that feeling is I can see how easily it can fuel addiction. I’m not a big gambler at all, but it’s a great rush when you win; it’s the thrill of beating the odds, of having luck with you, and you wonder if you can do it again. And again. Before you know it, suddenly you’re in debt, or worse you find you can’t stop. I imagine that’s how it feels for any addiction; gambling, alcohol, drugs. Perhaps that’s how addiction begins; a simple win betting $10 on a horse and something clicks in your mind, and from then on there’s something inside you that you can’t be rid of, hard as you try.

I don’t have an addictive personality, so I’m not worried about that myself; I only bet once or twice a year and I’m rarely tempted to gamble in other ways. But I do think it’s a problem for a country that one of its most celebrated days be dedicated to gambling. The week before the Cup, there’s so much coverage that you can’t escape it; for that week we glorify gambling and any ads or warnings are scarce. The Cup is part of our national heritage; we embrace it as part of our nature, but we don’t want to deal with the consequences of that – the ugly addictions beneath the surface. I’m not sure what that says about our culture.

But it is a great day, one of the few days that really does unite us as a nation, and for most people it’s just a chance to let their hair down and have some fun. That’s what it is for me. I’m still amazed I won, and that Lady Luck has been smiling on me since. So what do you think? OZ Lotto‘s up to $8,000,000 this Tuesday. Should I buy a ticket? 🙂