There was once a boy who could see but not be seen; neither could he be heard. He lived in a world full of people and their daily distractions. Though largely meaningless, these distractions were made to seem completely necessary. The 60” LED TV, the big house, weekend board meetings, portable electronic devices and mobile entertainment made so much noise and took up so much time that the boy was like a speck of dust waiting to be blown away the moment the air-conditioner was turned on. He was an intelligent, kind and wonderful boy. At times, he seemed a little withdrawn and temperamental. This was mistaken for bad behavior when the reasons were in fact quite simple. He had the potential to be truly amazing if only people took the time and see, and hear him out.
Every child has a voice. Unfortunately, not many get to be heard. As parents, we often find our children behaving in ways that test our patience. Tantrums, social withdrawal and emotional dependency are common at home. When this happens, we are quick to label and judge. But are the children really to be blamed?
In the case of abused children, the need to be heard is greater. According to late renowned psychologist and author Alice Miller, “Child abuse damages a person for life and that damage is no way diminished by the ignorance of the perpetrator. It is only with the uncovering of the complete truth as if affects all those involved that a genuinely viable solution can be found to the dangers of child abuse”. Just because we don’t see the abuse, it doesn’t mean it’s not happening.
The ignored child can be referred to as a “non-person”; in who despite enduring physical and emotional abuse, is not heard or seen as a child. This can be seen as the root of everything that results in the discounted voice and disregarded feelings of the child. The world has to acknowledge that children are born totally innocent and are born with equal value and human rights. The damage done to them is not imagined. Even if the child bottles up, the damage remains, lurking and festering into an emotional cocktail of problems that surface in a variety of ways*. By ignoring the signs, we become as responsible for the abuse as much as the abuser. By paying close attention, by letting them be heard, only then can the journey to emotional healing begin.
So start listening. Put yourself aside and get involved. Remember that every reaction has a reason. Be a parent. Better yet, be a friend. Help ease the child out of his dreary shell. Show him that he is not alone in this world. This encouragement will not only help you understand the child better, but also expose the amazing potential he was born with. We’ve had our chances at life. It’s time to repay these blessings by listening to children who have long gone unheard and take them from being invisible to become simply amazing.