Child abuse takes many forms

Any society purporting to call itself civilised has one duty above all others: the protection of its most vulnerable, the young and the old. Even armies on the rampage have generally respected these two imperatives.

We are, however, failing to protect our young in an area that is increasingly coming to the fore: allowing our children to become obese.

The truth is that overfeeding is every bit as damaging as underfeeding, yet a malnourished child turning up at school would pretty soon attract the attention of the authorities.

So let’s look for a moment at the consequences for a child of allowing them to become obese. First, the whole of their school experience becomes a misery; they are be picked on mercilessly, and utterly useless on the sports field; groups would likely shun them and the obese child would become the perpetual outsider; and any consequent emotional scaring would likely be carried into adulthood.

The irony of it all is that they are being set up by those who most protest their love for them for a whole range of illnesses in later life, and condemned to what is almost certainly an early grave.

If this is not abuse, I would very much like to know what is. What form of love is it that a parent would do such a thing to its child?

If we can agree that rescue for the child trumps all other considerations, then what are we to do? It seems elementary that we must work for a solution through the parents. But if, despite all our efforts, a satisfactory outcome cannot be reached, then we should be prepared to remove the child and find a dedicated foster parent.

Moving on to another form of child abuse, the recent ruling of a German court found that circumcision, due to cultural conventions, is a criminal breach of a child’s bodily integrity and of its human rights. It is unfortunate, to say the least, that the ruling had to come, from of all countries, Germany. Had it come from a British or American court – both largely free of modern anti-Semitism – there would still have been a howl of protest, but it would have been much muted.

We all abhor FGM (Female Genital Mutilation), and quite rightly it carries a heavy prison sentence. Yet it seems there are over a 100,000 women in our country who have had this procedure done to them and there has not been a single prosecution. Scandalous hardly seems sufficient an adjective.

If we deplore this act of barbarism for young girls, why do we take such a different attitude for young boys? Both involve pain and suffering to no medical end. How can an adult have the right to violate a child’s body?

Surely it is right to take a stand against such primitive and barbaric practices which should have no place in the modern world. If it is deemed important for religious purposes, why could the procedure not be put on hold until the child is of a sufficient age to make an informed decision? If their faith is strong enough, then doubtless they will comply in the fullness of time. But at least the decision would be theirs to make and not one that has been imposed on them.

Muslims as well as Jews will, I have no doubt, be up in arms at what I am suggesting because they too insist on the procedure. But neither faith could succeed in painting me as a bigot since I consider myself a true internationalist. I believe in the oneness and brotherhood of man. There are so many Muslims that I admire, just as there are Jews.

Lawrence of Arabia loved the Arabs and saw great nobility in their culture, and there has always been a strong Arabist lobby in the foreign office. We failed tragically to get a lasting solution that did justice to the Arab cause when we overthrew the Turkish Ottoman yoke in World War One, though all acknowledge that there was no easy solution either then or now.

As for the Jews, I glory in the fact that it was British arms and blood that made possible the state of Israel. So many millions exiled and persecuted around the world deserved a homeland of their own. I only wish we could have achieved the same for the many millions of Kurds as, indeed, we could have done.

I am saddened at how things have turned out, but Israel should heed the wise words of Winston Churchill when he said “in war, resolution; in defeat, defiance; in victory, magnanimity.”

No people in history have suffered in the way the Jewish people have, and no people know better what it is to be dispossessed and scattered to the winds. Pain and suffering puts you in a unique position to understand what it is like to be at the receiving end.

All reasonable Arabs now accept the permanence of the Jewish state – particularly now that, in extremis, it can defend itself with nuclear weapons.

Now is the time for Churchill’s exhortation of ‘magnanimity’ to come into play. Let the children of Zion pick up their winnings and leave the table. They can then go on to be a powerhouse for a resurgence of success and prosperity throughout the benighted Middle East which so fuels the Jihadists’ nihilist dreams. It should not let its fear plunge the area and the world’s fragile economy into chaos with a strike against Iran.

Iran knows perfectly well that it, rather than Israel, that would be “wiped from the map” in the event of a conflagration. The self same pressures which kept the Cold War from becoming hot would come into play were Iran to acquire the bomb.

The irony of it all is that the Jews and Arabs are ethnically the same people: they revere the same prophets and regards each other, along with Christians, as ‘People of the Book’.

What is needed now are cool heads and wise leadership, which could lead to a flowering of a lot of very talented people on both sides of the divide.

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About tomhmackenzie

Born Derek James Craig in 1939, I was stripped of my identity and renamed Thomas Humphreys in the Foundling Hospital's last intake of illegitimate children. After leaving the hospital at 15, I managed to find work in a Fleet Street press agency before being called up for National Service with the 15th/19th The King's Royal Hussars who were, at that time, engaged with the IRA in Northern Ireland. Following my spell in the Army, I sought out and located my biological parents at age 20. I then became Thomas Humphrey Mackenzie and formed the closest of relationships with my parents for the rest of their lives. All this formed the basis of my book, The Last Foundling (Pan Macmillan), which went on to become an international best seller.

Posted on August 1, 2012, in health, society, UK and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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