A couple of weeks ago I posted a small piece on the social networking website Facebook saying that a child I was looking after had been tied to his chair as a punishment. There was no risk of the child being identified but I was so incensed by the harm done to this child that I wanted to share what had happened. I feel it is important that the public are aware that this type of chastisement is still used sometimes and that it is very wrong. One of the reasons I write my fostering memoirs is to try and raise public awareness in the hope of reducing child abuse, as well as educating the public to report it.
However, I wasn’t prepared for the reaction to this post. As well as the sheer number of responses – hundreds of posts within half an hour – feelings ran very high. Many of those who posted comments were shocked by the abuse and felt it was important that people knew. Others didn’t want to know, and posted comments to the effect that they heard enough about child abuse in the media and didn’t want to hear more. While others still, incredibly, tried to justify the treatment of the boy by saying that the parents may not have known what they were doing because they had mental health problems or were under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
People counter-responded - with post upon post. Then the comments became personal between those posting, and then derogatory. After an hour I removed the post and with it the comments. I was shocked and saddened by some of the views expressed, and very concerned that a sizeable proportion of those who posted would rather not have known that a child had been abused. A culture of silence allows abuse to breed. What do you think? Was I wrong to post the comment and try and raise awareness? I don’t think so.
Cathy Glass (www.cathyglass.co.uk)