I have had the amazing opportunity to work at Red Cross Children’s hospital. I’ve learnt some amazing things on child care, but also been so shocked that child abuse seems so common. So often I’ve seen a patient who is neglected, physically or emotionally abused and it breaks my heart.
Paediatrics is something I’m very passionate about, and I’ve been thinking of writing a poem related to child abuse and this ethics course has given me the opportunity to finally do so. The material I read through/used is attached below. I have used one my personal experiences I had with one of my patients.
Thoughts on child abuse:
There is a girl of just 8 years
with tear stains in her eyes
From the shame she can’t hide.
She says, “why doesn’t my mom love me?”
She says, “it’s all my fault”
I try to comfort her,
she whispers to my ear that she wishes I were her mom.
I suspect child abuse,
how I wish I didn’t.
I distract her by playing games;
Games to improve the way her body moves.
Is there more I could do?
I feel helpless sending this girl home
just to be abused again.
I have no proof to give,
If I did I could report it.
Nothing to offer but physical therapy
and the occasional emotional support.
I’m crippled by the fear
that I’ve messed up too badly.
How can my mom love me like this?
My left arm and leg are not working
My body no longer listens to me,
it just sits there, lifeless.
They told me I had a stroke
but why can’t I move?
How can I ever please her again?
I can’t even walk.
I can’t play with my brother.
She doesn’t love me
and it’s all my fault.
I wish this young lady could be my mom
She is the only one who visits me in hospital.
She helps me.
I’m scared of the day I have to go home.
My mom hurts me but I won’t ever tell on her.
She would only hurt me more.
I love her
I don’t know how to show her.
I never wanted children
but it was forced upon me,
one dreadful day.
He refused to wear protection.
Why I go back to him every time
I’ll never understand.
I’m afraid I’ll shatter her innocence.
Life is tough,
I do not have a job.
I have three hungry mouths to feed.
The only way to earn
is by selling myself on the street.
Sometimes she makes me mad,
she always wants to play.
I hit her,
sometimes so hard she bleeds.
The word “sorry” never seems to escape my lips.
I speak words of hate
Because I had a bad day.
Nobody understands the pain I go through
just to give her some food.
What if she gets taken away?
Away because of me.
Maybe then she would be loved and cared for.
Berry L, Biersteker L, Dawes A, Lake L & Smith C. (2013). South African Child Gauge 2013. Cape Town: Children’s Institute, University of Cape Town.
DHS. (2007). Physicians guide for reporting suspected child abuse and neglect. Retrieved at 11:00 on August 17, 2014 from http://chanceatchildhood.msu.edu/pub.html
Flaherty E, Sege R. (2005). Barriers to physician identification and reporting of child abuse. Paediatric Annals 34 (5): 349-356
DSD, DWCPD and UNICEF. (2012). Violence Against Children in South Africa. Pretoria: Department of Social Development/Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities/UNICEF.
Prato N, Morris L, Mazive E, Vahidnia F, Stehr M. (2006). Relationship between HIV risk perception and condom use: Evidence from a population based survey in Mozambique. International family planning perspectives, 32 (4): 192-200.
StatsSA. (2014). Work & Labour force. Retrieved at 10:00 on August 17, 2014 from http://beta2.statssa.gov.za/?page_id=737&id=1