Sometimes I don’t know what to do….

Sometimes I don’t know what to do…. 150 150 Jane Evans

I am on a writing break on the beautiful island of  in the Canary Islands. Its a chilled out kind of place, plenty of surfers, older people and families. I have been working until around 2 p.m. most days and then I head out to walk along the beaches and generally mooch about usually ending up in one of the lovely bars for an early evening glass of wine or mojito.

One of the loveliest things is watching all the little ones exploring the sea and the sand and seeing their parents doing simple things with them, throwing pebbles in the waves, looking for fish in the rock pools, giving them a much needed piggy back at the end of a long day. It fills me up and gives me so much hope for the future of each child and for us all as they will be our future.

Yesterday, I was heading back to my hotel when I caught something happening out of the corner of my eye just on the edge of one of the small plazas. There was a family, Mum holding a little one, 2 older children, boys I believe, and a Dad pushing the buggy, I carried on by until I heard a loud ‘twack’ followed closely by another one, my head snapped round on the first one to see the Mum flying at the oldest child whacking him around the head, followed closely by the second child, another resounding ‘thwack’. She poured a tirade of words over then at the same time in a language I could not understand, the Dad said something too but I don’t know if it was to the Mum or the children.

Understandably both young children seemed deeply shocked and in great physical pain, the saddest thing I think I have seen in a long time was the eldest child shoving his whole hand in his mouth to stop himself first crying out, and crying, the smaller child just shook, neither made a single sound. I stood and bore witness to their abuse and hoped the parents saw me but I did not know what else to do. They shot around the corner and were gone.

I was left wondering what ever had happened to the woman that she would strike her own defenseless children in a way that could cause them both kinds of brain injury, physical and emotional, for life. Was she ill, was she herself deeply traumatised, what of the father? I will never know. What I do know is the lasting harm such an assault will have on all 3 of the children. A glance at the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study, and other research on being hit by a parent, shows us what is all too obvious, it does long term harm. Based on the fleeting snap shot of those children’s lives I witnessed I would give them an ACE score of 3 which means they are at increased risk of everything you would never wish on any child, let alone one you are related too.

Those children knew not to make a fuss, not to cry, not to look for help from anyone, which is a huge concern as it means being hit around the head must be ‘the norm’ and that they have learned that being upset counts for nothing and makes things worse. I failed them, I was too slow. too stunned and at at loss as to know what to do other than try to catch the eyes of the parents. I failed in this, one was in full rant the other scuttling around the corner. I failed…but this is not about me, what about those children?

I wonder who knows about their daily life, or suspects something? Who will be curious enough to see beyond any difficult or withdrawn behaviours they present at school, in the neighbourhood, or at family gatherings. Will they be seen as ‘problem children’ and given labels as you can be sure they are not going to tell anyone as their shame and fear will run far too deeply, as will their sense that this is ‘normal’. Whatever will become of them, nothing good I am afraid to say. I am sorry to have failed them and will use this to fuel my determination to keep doing what I can to speak up for children and to extend them a hand up to those who care for them.


Jane Evans

Jane is a ‘learn the hard way’ person. She has learnt from her personal experiences and her direct work with people who have often been in really bad places emotionally, relationally, practically and sometimes professionally.

All stories by: Jane Evans

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