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29 October 2010

Neglect: the invisible abuse

Abuse doesn't always manifest in bruises and other physical trauma. Joanne Hart says that sometimes it's about children being treated like strays by deadbeat parents.

A friend of mine goes to collect her 11-yr-old daughter after a school function, and her stomach sinks when she sees that young Celia* isn't waiting on her own. Beside Celia is another girl, Yvonne*, who has become her daughter's shadow. 

A sweet enough child - the problem is that little Yvonne, more often than not, ends up coming home with them and staying for days at a time. What do little Yvonne's parents say? Not much. Like call-centre consultants, they are disembodied voices at the other end of telephone conversations, requesting permission for their daughter to be fostered out to people like my friend for a day or two – or three.

But, on this day, the situation takes a turn for the worse. My friend's daughter is not only flanked by Yvonne, but there is a new child, Rosalie*, waiting with them. 

The story gets even sadder - it turns out that Rosalie hadn't brought enough of anything with her, had no money for entertainment and was plagued by headlice. Being a resourceful and seasoned mom, my friend got all three of them checked and sorted out before bedtime.  As far as dump-sites go, little Rosalie had landed on a soft and safe spot. 

 
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