Daniela Ginta, The Mindful Writer

Freelance Writer and Photographer, Author of the Mindfulness Blog

Tag: raising children Page 1 of 4

Weekly Column: The Antidote to Internet Challenges Is Presence (The Real Kind)

Like all parents with school-age children, I received the district heads-up letter about the Momo challenge. By now most have are familiar with the strange, creepy face of the Momo character and the internet storm it has created. My eldest had heard about it, while my youngest had not. I passed on the heads-up. They shrugged. There are just so many wacky things out there, my eldest said.

True. The many things that lurk in the virtual darkness of the internet are not reduced to Momo or another challenge. It’s an ongoing thing. There are controversial videos and memes that are inappropriate for kids but they access anyway because they are there; there is pornography (see Katie Neustaeder’s column from last week); there are violent or troublesome-imagery games parents sometimes approve as OK because ‘so many people are doing it so it must be fine’ – which only confuses things.

We can all agree that whoever created Momo has a sick, twisted mind, but then again, that is the category we can (almost) place so many of today’s online happenings, including the addicting features of apps and games. As we know, children respond scarily well to that and get hooked easily.

The reality is, the internet murkiness and disturbing at times content will not go away. I say this with profound sadness. I grew up without the internet and loved it, and I love it even more now, retrospectively. It had all the magic in it a kid could want.

One of the reasons for it was nature: I was outside a lot. Aside from time spent reading, doing homework, or helping my parents with various chores around the house and garden, time was spent outside, rain or shine, with or without other kids, but to be fair, lots of it with kids because that’s what was considered the norm for children.

The challenges of those days had to do with climbing trees, riding bikes up crazy hills, being delegated to do dares as we were all sitting around a fire on a given late summer evening (when you live near a cemetery and the theme of the night is ghosts, you have to conjure a decent amount of courage to overcome the ‘no way I am doing this.’)

Now mind you, we weren’t instructed by my parents on every aspect of safety but given the occasional advice on what is safe and what not, and why. Nor did they have to sign a waiver if we were at somebody’s house climbing trees and building forts (with real tools, by ourselves) because it was part of the picture: kids did real things, and they did a lot of problem solving through various activities. Running into mischief added its own educational quotient.

What made it so darn good? For one, when you are around your significant adults and do various things alongside them, you learn as you go. They’ll stop you from doing this or that, until you learned the safe way to do it, but they would let you try things that were not deadly so you could make mistakes too. Hence the ongoing challenge of learning things. The best two things about that was that you really strived to learn how to do it right, and then it felt pretty good when you could put your skills to work when the situation called for it.

We went up on the hills near my house and we went to the local swimming pool in the summer. Being out and about and learning so many of those ‘invisible’ like skills by osmosis really, was the best and most valuable gift that I was given.

The times have changed and there was nothing any of us could do to stop the evolution. With the good (and the internet has brought a lot of that, everyone agrees,) came the bad, and this, again, no amount of vigilance from parents or responsible adults can stop.

The one thing we can do, and no one can change that, save for our own decision to not do it, is to spend enough time with our kids and teach about balance and healthy challenges, not by preaching to them but by exposing them to situations where they can experience that. Indoors and out.

If adults take time away from the internet and screens in general and instead dedicate it to spending it together with our kids, there is a chance they will get to experience some of that magic that the ‘no internet’ kids once experienced.

Any time spent together inside or outside, be it hard work that brings in both frustration and a sense of accomplishment, or fun times spent having adventures of all kinds, such as camping, hiking, and exploring any given corner or nature – there is a wealth of goodness and magic there waiting to grow. We have the means to challenge our children in a way that helps them grow confident and able to discern. It’s no perfect solution, but it’s something that no one loses anything by trying; on the contrary.

It’s been said many times: you cannot change the world around you but you can change how you react to it.

Now that’s a challenge worth taking.

We Are All Guardians Of Our Breathing Space

Originally published as a column on CFJC Today Kamloops and Armchair Mayor News on November 13, 2017. 

If you hike to the top of Peterson Creek Park on any given day, more so on a cold one, you’ll see a blanket of yellowish, dirty air draped over the valley.

This is not new or unexpected. The surface inversion well-known to these parts increases the effects of air pollution. Whatever is released into that cold air trapped close to the surface, be it vehicle exhaust, mill emissions, or wood smoke, it all stagnates and makes our breathing air a lot worse than it should be.

There is no clear answer as to what is in the yellow plume. Winter smog is a terrible beast made worse by inversion phenomena, but knowing what we breathe in would be good. You can’t fix something if you don’t know where to start or how complex the issue.

It would be nice to know how much each polluting source adds to that yellowish layer. There is no heads-up information about mill emissions or slash pile burning. That affects some people more than others. It is unsettling to be exposed to air pollution by various industries in or around town, and not know when that will happen. Of course, when it does, people notice, but there is something to be said about habituation. Except that in case of our breathing air, it is not in our benefit at all to accept it as is.

On top of notifications about mill emissions and slash burning, there should be information sessions on how air quality is made worse by the inversion and a low venting index. If psychologically it is easy to shrug off the memory of many socked-in days when a better day comes along, and the valley air looks clean, our bodies react differently, as the perilous effects on health are compounded.

Air pollution is a real enemy to human health, and an increasing body of scientific evidence points to it. Short- and long-term effects of air pollution are real and, for the latter, deadly in many cases. The reluctance to recognize them as such have to do, I am willing to say, with the invisible nature of this threat. Should dirty water pour out of out taps, few if any would want to drink it. The air we breathe should be no different. It is true that industrial pollution accounts for much of the bad air in town. But some of the dirty yellow plume is caused by residential activity, be it driving or wood burning.

City traffic has been increasing over the years and that means an increased volume of exhaust gases. Adding to that is the unnecessary idling. There is no need to idle cars for more than 30 seconds on a cold day. Nor is idling while stopping to chat, or while running into a store for some quick shopping, or to keep warm while waiting. Just more toxic gases.

As for wood smoke, whether from residential use or slash pile burning (an environmentally unsound and health-costly solution for all the logging leftovers,) it tends to linger for a long time, which is exactly why in areas where inversion is present wood burning should be reconsidered. A recent study by a team at McGill University concluded that wood smoke increases the risk of heart attack in people over 65 by 19 percent. Residential wood heat accounts for 15 percent of PM2.5 in British Columbia, likely higher in areas like Kamloops where inversion is present.

Wood smoke is a mix of approximately 200 compounds, including particulate matter of various sizes, powerful cancer-causing and mutagenic agents. When it comes to particulate matter, the smaller it is, the deeper in the cells of respiratory tract they get. Not exactly what we want to have in our immediate environment for months at a time. As always, children and unborn babies are at highest risk due to their developing bodies. As for the elderly and those who with chronic respiratory diseases, life becomes a few times more dangerous just by breathing, and the constant irritation of the respiratory tract makes them prone to longer and more debilitating seasonal infections.

Interior Health recommends that wood burning should be done on those days when the venting index is good, which is close to 100. On a regular ‘socked-in’ day, the said index is a mere 10, which is classified as poor. Venting indexes can be found at http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/epd/epdpa/venting/venting.html. It’s an eye-opener for sure, along with air monitors present around town (www.purpleair.com.) Tomorrow is forecasted to have a good venting index, by the way.

I know I am not the only one wondering about this. And I know that when there’s a will, a solution, or many, are found. We ought to find the will to reconsider the way we think about our air, and we ought to change our habits to help keep our air clean. At the same time, we ought to be able to get the industrial polluters to realize that pushing potentially harmful gases and particulate matter into our breathing space is no longer an option. Accountability is not a volatile concept.

Summers will be smokier, we are told. If some of that will be unavoidable, long-term exposure during other seasons can and should be avoided for all the right reasons. The most important one being that nothing matters if breathing is impacted.

Holding Onto Hope Is The Only Way Out

Originally published as a column in CFJC Today and Armchair Mayor News on Monday, June 5, 2017. 

I admit to no longer looking forward to checking the news. After a weekend spent with my family, out of reception, on the shore of a little-known lake near Little Fort, the return to the fast-moving, permanently-connected-to-the-internet world, is nowhere near pleasant.

We had a weekend of stories and adventures, laughter over the silly antics of a dog so happy to be exploring the woods and jumping into the lake as she pleased, and full of the togetherness that words like ‘family camping’ do not do justice to. We went paddling in early mornings and late evenings when the water is as smooth as glass and the haunting calls of the loons are but wrapping around your thoughts like vines.

The phone was but a camera. When we left on Friday I was still processing the troubling thoughts caused by the US president’s decision to withdraw his country from the Paris climate change agreement. Overwhelming is an understatement. We are not yet in dire straights environmentally speaking, not over where we are anyway, but the threads that hold it all together disappear with every bad decision.

Lately I have been immersed in a book called ‘The right to be cold’ by Sheila Watt-Cloutier. It is a fascinating read with lots of Inuit history and, at the same time, an accurate and heartbreaking description of the way life in the Arctic has been affected by many factors, mainly climate change. The climate change-induced transformations of the Arctic world are happening twice as fast compared to changes in the rest of the world. A cautionary tale at best.

Yet, there are still climate change deniers. That I will never understand. I’d do but one thing to appeal to their minds and hearts: I’d take them to one of the many places where the sun splashes on a lake trying to coax waterlilies to reach to the surface, and you feel dwarfed by trees of all kinds shading delicate fairy slippers, wild strawberry flowers and newly emerged arnica flowers. Then I’d ask: What if this corner of paradise and many others would cease to exist? What if basic life needs could no longer be satisfied because the planet is simply not enabling for it?

There is still time. There’s hope.

A recent study done in Germany concluded that planting trees to sink carbon is simply not enough to counteract the effects of climate change. Though trees do absorb carbon dioxide as they grow, which makes new trees grow a lot faster due to its high concentrations these days, we would need immense surfaces – the equivalent of all the agricultural land plus some more, if we are to slow down climate change. We need to let go of fossil fuels and focus on alternatives.

Yet letting go of hope is not an option, no matter how deeply disturbing one president’s decision to embrace denial is. Hope we must, hope we will. There are still many countries (some US states too), committed to act towards making life on earth last, Canada included, which is a comforting thought.  Yes, Canada will have to forgo pipelines and dams and LNG soon enough if the commitment is to be a fruitful one.

That was, as I said, the thought context in which I entered the blissful ‘out of reception’ zone with my loved ones. Upon our return, connection grabbed onto our phones half an hour or so after leaving the campsite.

We got home, unloaded, scrubbed dishes, and sorted through the camping gear to store it away till next time. It was my oldest who checked the news first. There was another attack in London, he said.

More people senselessly killed, others critically wounded, more fear and terror spreading, more questions that will remain, once again, unanswered.

I know this is but the one of the facets news outlets focus on. I know that the famine in South Sudan is beyond tragic and millions are on the brink of death due to starvation and diseases; that boats of hopeful migrants, many of whom children, still engage in crossing the Mediterranean in search of a better life, and that the Middle East is still ravaged by bombings, and senseless dying happens everywhere you look.

It’s that and more that made me steer away from connecting back to the world. It’s sad, it’s scary, it’s angering, and it’s not going to end anytime soon, unfortunately. Yet, just like I stated above, it’s hope we must commit to. There simply is no better way.

Hope makes anger dwindle; when solutions are needed, rather than more resentment, hope, and willingness to hold onto what makes us human (kindness is what comes to mind first) must be strengthened. It’s the hardest thing at times.

Whenever dark, hopeless thoughts invade my mind, I seek the one refuge that somehow stays unaltered every time: the hope that the world can be changed. It takes many (most of us?) but it’s possible. Somehow, some of the areas of the drawing board on which we sketch life have become blackened by horror acts and fear. But the big picture can still be lit up if enough well-wishing hands keep on sketching bright, hopeful bits of life. It takes many. Most of us and each of us.

The Spaces That Keep Our Children Safe

Originally published as a column in CFJC Today and Armchair Mayor News on March 27, 2017. 

For two days in a row last week I drove my oldest son to Harper Mountain. He had two ski passes left from a bunch he got for Christmas. I relish the time with each of my sons alone. There is chatting to be had, silence too, there are things I remember and think about long after.

Most of all, there is the reminder that what counts most as children grow up is being present. Going through the moves of parenting teaches you a thing or two about what being present really means; it teaches both humbleness and gratefulness at once. I get reminded often that we stray from both only to return with more of each.

Over the last year I have amassed a solid collection of comments about how challenging life with a teenager must be. And with a budding one coming close behind. They are 14 and 10. Every time I take a moment to ponder but the same answer comes out ‘No, not really. There are occasional bumps but it’s a good ride.’

On our second day on the way to the mountain, the radio was humming in the background, and we were chatting driving along. A story on the radio caught our attention. We both stopped talking and listened instead. A man was telling the heart wrenching story of his growing up.

It involved abuse, addictions and three little boys aged three, four and five, left to fend for themselves for weeks. There was living in foster homes, temporarily living in the grandparents’ home, facing racism because of their Indigenous heritage from their mother’s side, though the three kids were never told the details of their heritage. There was anger and loneliness.

He started using drugs and alcohol as a teenager. The only place where he did not have to face any realities, the place where he did not have to search aimlessly for what he did not seem to be able to find.

My son and I both listened. The man talked about becoming heavily addicted to crack cocaine and how overpowering that was. How overwhelming the high he was after, how misleading, and inescapable and deadly. He became homeless and living on the dark side of life for ten more years, his will only centered around figuring out how to feed his addiction.

The gap that opened closed without swallowing him up though.

Nowadays, Jesse Thistle knows that he is a Metis-Cree from Saskatchewan, and he is pursuing a doctorate at York University. He is the receiver of many an academic accolade. His focus, unsurprisingly, is homelessness, Indigenous history, mainly intergenerational trauma, social work including addiction studies.

My son and I had plenty to talk about once the story was wrapped up. Fentanyl overdoses news abound lately; questions without answers for now. Listening to Jesse’s story shed yet more light on why this is such a tough issue to solve.

We can roll out numbers and outline the dangers for our children, yet as many of us know, curiosity, peer pressure (or both), bullying and abuse of any kind, loneliness and the sad reality of not knowing where to turn for safe space, that can lead many astray. Listening to someone’s life story outlines all of that.

That’s where parents come in, or significant adults that have the privilege to be in children’s lives. There is no script for any of this, which sends us scrambling looking for ideas and solutions. We jump in with both feet and figure out how to stay afloat as we go, after life dunks you a few times for good measure. That is all part of being human and being present as a parent.

Most of all, being there where our children are, listening to them, not judging, and not lecturing but simply doing our best to forge a bond that can withhold challenges ahead… I choose that as my saving parenting grace. Parenting and grace rarely waltz together, but building trust need not call for graciousness but for honesty. If you carry your heart on your sleeve, your children will too. I choose to believe that.

It’s no wonder they call parenting the hardest job in the world. It calls for guts at times when you feel like an empty vessel, save for the butterflies that flutter within. Yet that is where it’s at. The vulnerable space where we have to do our best to listen, share our own fears and stories and encourage our children to grow by listening too, understanding that their worthiness will never come from an outside source. As we have to realize that our children’s choice of positive ways in life will not come from our policing their every move and raising them with fear, but from building trust.

There are many difficult issues parents face today, including drug use, internet-related perils and all that lurks in the space that parents and children most often don’t venture in together. The scary stuff. Yet listening to people telling their stories of getting lost and, if lucky, found, of needing to have a space to find themselves safely in, renews my belief that children today need us more than ever to provide that. If we don’t, someone else may offer but the illusion of shelter as a lure. That is scary.

Yet the chat about the tough stuff does not start when kids turn 14. It starts when they are two and snuggled against you reading their favourite story again and again. It goes on as they turn ten and you find time to snuggle still and read together, making time to talk about all the things you encounter in the books you discover together. There is a lot of life in there.

As it happens, the books they read by themselves later on, and the life stories they come upon, some as real and scary as can be, they will come and reach out to you and share them too. They are often not looking for solutions, but for confirmation that there is a place where they are welcome, where they are heard and listened to.

Parenting is never be about building walls and having surveillance of all kinds in place. It’s about making sure that the big wide world our children trek through will have an oasis here and there when they need it, and enough islands for them to swim to and rest on when the water they find themselves in tosses them every which way. Because it will. Life has it that way. No promises of perfect form, but plenty of opportunities to make the journey worthwhile.

This Is Her, Our Pup

It’s 8.03 so her eyes are on me. Ready? Not yet, cuddles first. Not sure when this became a morning ritual. Her head on my chest, eyes closed, so much is being said without a word coming out.

She knows my every move. Mornings are particularly important because when you have that kind of nose you want to see what the new day tells you about the night before.

She waits by the door, eyes fixated on me. Love and pressure go together sometimes. Finally, the door opens and we’re out. It’s -18 and sunny, though the sun is scarce on our block still. Heel, leave it, good job, repeat. Her little feet dance on the sidewalk this way and that, her nose sniffing tracks of cats and dogs and birds. So much has happened overnight. Again.

The park is white and frozen. We know where the sunny parts are so that’s where we’re heading. Interference. A dog that mostly doesn’t like other dogs, his owner says, shows up. She feels it’s not a friendly greeting but a ‘let me sniff you so I can bash you shortly’, so she declines. A short-lived pursuit follows; her tail is down, she is not comfortable like she is with other dogs. She stands her ground though. A brave pup she is.

We move along. She runs ahead. I stop to adjust my mittens and I notice her standing in the middle of the path waiting. We gaze at each other for a few seconds. ‘Should we keep going?’ I ask. She tilts her head. All right then.

We take a trail that will ultimately take us to the sunny parts. It’s cold. My face is stinging. She dashes up and down the hills chasing birds. Then she stops by the squirrel tree. Yes, there is one she knows of in the park. Other than the whooshing sounds made by my feet and hers, all is quiet.

We reach the sunny path. As soon as I feel the sun on my face I stop and let it kiss my cheeks. She does too. We exchange glances again. We speak sparkling together; a language that makes your day brighter.

All of a sudden she starts sniffing with a vengeance. Her nose plows through deep snow and then she holds it up and smells the air. There are tracks that she sniffs again and again. Then I understand. The snow becomes a translator of our pup’s behaviour. When we’re walking down the street or around here, certain tracks that the snow makes now visible, make her go crazy.

I follow a narrow set of tracks with my eyes all the way up the hill. I wouldn’t have been aware of that if she wasn’t here to make me see. Coyotes. We saw one the other day just out of the park. She looks like one, people say. One day we’ll meet face to face, coyotes and us. I know she’ll be brave, but I hope she’ll be wise too.

We’re in the shade again. It’s cold and I’m thinking of warmth and hot coffee, boys waking up, and morning snuggles with little boy. It’s a good sunny, day. It’s her first birthday.

She’s been a catalyst of laughter in our home, she’s reminded us all of the simple pleasure of being, quiet and peaceful, and let the world go by even for just a bit. She knows our names, we know her favourite games and hiding places and we’re constantly revising the house rules just so we can have more of her.

Happy birthday, pup, glad you’re ours and we’re yours. We love you so.

The Stuff We Need More Of

 

Originally published as a column on CFJC Today on January 9, 2017. 

Every now and then I come across a quote that resides in my thoughts for days. Such was the case of the words I later discovered to belong to David Orr, professor of environmental studies and politics (quite the combination), writer, and activist.

It goes like this: “The plain fact is that the planet does not need more successful people. But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, storytellers, and lovers of every kind. It needs people who live well in their places. It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and humane. And these qualities have little to do with success as we have defined it.”

Truly riveting, isn’t it?

It could sound rather counterproductive and somewhat the opposite of what we’re telling children about life nowadays. That these very words are part of a book called ‘Educational Literacy: Educating Our Children for A Sustainable Future’ makes all the sense and more.

When my oldest son was in grade 1, he asked what being rich meant. I said that though it may seem otherwise, true richness has nothing to do with things but with what we carry inside. It has to do with how much of the stuff that we cannot measure we have. Though he is inching his way towards becoming an adult, should he asked the same question now, I’d tell him the same, though some might think I am depriving him of the much-needed impetus for building a successful career.

A day or two after discovering the above-mentioned quote, I came across two news stories that fueled the debate with myself. One had to do with the salaries of some of the most successful CEOs in Canada; the numbers peppered throughout the report were in the millions, and lots of them. Really, if too many zeroes are used to describe one’s monetary compensation, numbers kind of lose their significance. Unless some of that sum is used to add goodness to the world.

The second story had to do with a Montreal-based small restaurant owner who offers free meals to those in need, no questions asked. That averages to four or five meals a day (and less wasted food.) The ripple effects of the free meals reached further than expected: People who eat there started leaving small sums of money to help cover the cost of the free meals.

If you were ever in a desperate financial situation, even once in your life, you know what a godsend a free meal can be. Compassion invites gratefulness, which in turn invites more compassion. Deep down we all know that. It’s easy to forget to look back, and at times it may seem easy to shrug and hope someone else will take care of the ungracious side of the world.

If success was measured in how much better we can each make the world around us by exercising compassion (and not judging), we’d definitely need as many successful people as we can get.

For the world to carry itself forward with unselfish grace, it is us who need to supply it by raising children who think outside of their own personal boundaries. Moreover, we need to raise children that follow passions, dreams and become fulfilled in ways that go beyond financial success while preserving the kind ways of the heart.

No one ever lost anything in lending a hand. Still, many of us are afraid to commit to it because the amount of wrongness to be fixed seems insurmountable and ever-growing. Many of us are perhaps of the opinion that paying it forward works best in the movies. Every now and then, stories that prove good deeds invite to more of the same surface, and with that, one can hope, the conviction that letting our humanity show is but the right thing to do.

And then again, there is the very opposite of the coin that prompts doubt, anger even. In our community, the recent hit-and-run that took a life and left so much sadness behind shoots down all hope that people carry warmth in their heart no matter what.

There are heinous acts in every part of our world. There are people who act senselessly; they steal, hurt, kill, do irreparable and atrocious damage, and truth is, no one will ever be able to stop that from happening. But the aftermath is where we can lend a helping, healing, loving hand. We live, you could say, in a perpetual aftermath where every day is a good day to start.

Part of doing that is raising compassionate children by making helping those less fortunate common place, and by helping them understand that life and death are but brackets and the in between is where we can make a difference in how we live.

We are all born with smiles sketched across our minds and hearts, yet many peel off as we go. We learn that success involves climbing ladders that often claim the softest parts of our hearts. What we can teach our children is that being successful does not mean leaving compassion behind.

Indeed, in the age of a growing and often ailing population, due to hardship related to climate change, wars and everyday societal wrongness, it may be necessary to forgo the urge to push our children towards one-sided success and help them instead carry on with heartful, giving steps. We’d all be richer for it and smile more.

 

Why Do Pitt Bulls Get More Public Attention Than Abused Children

Initially published as a column in the Armchair Mayor News on Friday, October 7, 2016. 

ProtectSince 2011, at least 233 children between the ages of three and 18 have been subjected to sexual abuse while in foster care. That is in British Columbia alone. The majority of them were girls and more than 60 percent Indigenous. To put it in perspective, approximately 25 percent of the children in foster care in our province are aboriginal.

The report created some ripples on the day it hit the press, but definitely not enough and the ripples also did not carry through the next few days. In other words, it’s not something we talk about and become rightfully shocked by.

In contrast, the Montreal pit bull ban got so much publicity and word of mouth that it reached many corners of this province and the country too. While I will not go into that debate, my contention revolves around what makes us tick as a society. That over two hundred children (many more go unreported) were subjected to sexual violence in Canada in this day and age should make us all stop and question our priorities as a society.

Love or hate pit bulls, the thing is, we talk about it, we have it in the news, petitions are flying (one had approximately 191,000 signatures a week or so ago) and we collectively argue about the ban. There are some pretty strong opinions flying out there if you care to check the news.

For the record, I love dogs. I have one I dearly love, and I do think that dogs deserve to be cared for the right way. But, I am of the belief that every dog owner should be charged or drastically fined should their dog attack anyone and harm them. The money should go straight to shelters to help other animals.

On the other hand, are we being just as vocal about those abused children? A year ago or so I wrote a column about a little girl (age 2) who died while in foster care, bearing many signs of physical abuse. It saddened me then and it still saddens me now. There was a lot of muddling in the case as the foster parents denied being physically abusive and the natural mother who fought hard to get her baby back had a history of mental disease.

B.C. Minister of Children and Family Development Stephanie Cadieux still maintains that the ministry has rigorous standards when choosing foster parents. Outrage? Nah. New measures will be implemented, possibly after paper-pushing, stamping, approving of this and that, and then some more paper-pushing. Meanwhile, children suffer.

It’s hard to believe our most beautiful province has a shameful reputation when it comes to how we take care of children. Not mine or yours most likely, but of those who were born under less lucky stars. The most vulnerable of them all. They drop even lower and the sky above them darkens even more with every day of abuse and mistreatment.

It’s high time we put a stop to that. That in every society throughout time people found themselves at the opposite poles of status, financially or otherwise, is true. But nowadays we are privy to enough information to be able to step up and stop any kind of abuse, to shorten decision-making time when a child’s life depends on it and to make it big news and a subject of conversation until the issue does not longer exist. To paraphrase our PM who is still dragging his feet in the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Inquiry, this is 2016. Almost 2017 in fact.

I believe in compassion and second chances, yet there is a fine line we ought not to cross when dealing with children who are subjected to sexual violence of any kind. The problem is, many of these children are scarred for life. Second chances are, in these cases and sadly so, more often for the perpetrators than for the young victims.

When we think of the future we think of children. They are the ones carrying the legacy into tomorrow. The more we allow as a society for a partially rotten legacy to exist, the more troublesome the future we hope for becomes.

A quote I often think of belongs to Nelson Mandela: ‘There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.’ Am I right to assume that our society’s soul is not doing too well at the moment? We can each do something to make it heal by fighting to treat our collective children better and let no harm of the above sort come to them.

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