Women & Children Last

There are times when I can’t believe what I’m hearing or seeing.

I watched the news reports in absolute disgust as Oscar Pistorius, the disabled athlete who’d won everyone’s heart during the Olympics last summer, received bail after allegedly killing his girlfriend. He killed her on Valentine’s Day, no less, in their home in South Africa. Next thing you know, they’ll be saying that the glove, or in this case the prosthetic, didn’t fit.

Sorry about the bad joke. Really, I know people are innocent till proven guilty, but come on; there’s evidence up the wazoo, and they give this guy bail? Come on.

Meanwhile, in the good old USA, a kid barely out of his teens is on trial in Massachusetts for murdering his sweetheart while they were still in high school. Whatever happened to the time-honored high school tradition of just moving on? Seriously. When I went to school and the girl of your dreams dumped you to go to the spring dance with the pretty boy, you simply asked the girl whom you should’ve asked in the first place; you know, the former tomboy who you played baseball with in second grade. Yeah, that girl.

You didn’t murder your ex. You simply laughed maniacally, later, when she showed up at the 15th high school reunion with four screaming kids hanging off her and a prince who’s now fat, bald, and screaming for her to get him a beer. But you didn’t kill her.

And there were also two separate incidents in the news where parents had actually kept their kids in a cage. Really? In one of those cases, the kid was kept caged until he was 18. At that point his dad let him out, put some money in his pocket, dropped him off at a bus station and told him to find a homeless shelter. When this was discovered, both of his parents got 15 years in a cage; poetic justice.

Whatever happened to “women and children first?” Sure, in the past you would hear of incidents like these every once in a while, but today they seem to be an everyday occurrence. Seriously, hardly a day goes by now without hearing about kids bullying kids until they kill themselves, or 13- and 14-year-old boys and girls beating their significant others because they broke up with them. Parents who torture children and in some cases blow up their houses with their kids in them, grandmothers, GRANDMOTHERS, killing their grandkids and themselves. I think to myself, what can we do about all these things?

Two simple things come to mind; be aware and give a damn. Get educated, people; know the signs of abuse, either physical or mental. Teach your kids that if they see abuse, or suspect that one of their friends is being abused, they must say something to someone — to you, or a teacher, or anybody. If you think you see something that’s not right, act. Yes, there may be absolutely nothing wrong, but what’s the cost of being a little embarrassed compared to the benefit of saving a life or stopping someone from going down a path that will destroy their lives? Think about it – in the case of the kid that killed his girlfriend, it didn’t just happen. The signs were probably there in plain sight. Usually, when kids see abuse or bullying, they don’t act. This could be because they’re scared to tell someone, but it’s more likely that they don’t know what to do or they assume that the person is just mad and it will blow over. Educate your children about abuse!

It doesn’t matter what the reason was for what happened. The plain truth is that two young lives were destroyed forever, not to mention the irreversible pain that the families will always feel. Take it from me — the pain of losing a child is the kind of pain I wouldn’t wish on anyone. It dulls with time, but it will never go away.

In the Pistorius case, there were reports that on more than one occasion, the police had been summoned to his residence for domestic disturbances. Nobody thought that maybe, just maybe, someone should intervene before something really bad happened. HELLO? And as for the caged children, didn’t anyone find it odd that people knew that the family had kids, but never saw them? Didn’t people in the neighborhood think that something just wasn’t quite right? Don’t people see these things coming? There are times to mind your own business, and then there are times you shouldn’t. We’ve got to put women and children first again, not last.

—James Shearer

James Shearer

James Shearer is a writer and co-founder of Spare Change News.

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